Windy uses sustainable travel

Annual Climate Change Youth Conference drives change

Loudoun Academy played host to the annual Youth Climate Change Conference, where children and young people from across East Ayrshire gathered together to develop ideas and actions to respond to the climate emergency and help to achieve the Council's ambitious Net Zero targets.


The conference heard from six schools that had been recognised at the Climate Change awards held earlier this year. Pupils spoke about the work that is taking place within their school, each focusing on one of our climate change themes.

Fenwick Primary spoke about the importance of partnership working and involving the local community to encourage positive change; Patna Primary spoke about their strategy to encourage active travel to school; Hillhead Primary spoke about the natural environment and their work to plant trees and improve their school grounds and Ochiltree Primary spoke about waste and the importance of recycling at school and at home. The school recycles over 200 crisp bags each week and any money raised is donated to a local charity.

Drongan Primary spoke about the importance of saving energy. They had found that hot water taps were regularly left running in their toilets so monitors were recruited to ensure that taps were turned off.

After each presentation, the school set questions for the audience to consider in relation to their own roles, ideas were submitted online that will be considered by the Climate Change team in the coming weeks and will be shared with our schools to grow our climate change movement.

And that wasn't all.

Following last year’s success of Mission to the Moon, an active travel initiative, a new active travel initiative - Journey to Jupiter was launched. Children and young people will earn S-miles and Mission Control hope that by next summer enough S-miles will have been gathered to launch a rocket all the way to Jupiter. The Climate Change team also promoted the Litter around Schools initiative, which launched last year, in primary and secondary schools, and encourages children and young people not to drop litter and to act responsibly. There is work ongoing for an Early Years initiative, which will be launched later this year.

In the afternoon, Netherthird Primary, the proud recipients of a Silver Award and last sessions Chair's Award, shared their journey. Mrs McAvoy and two pupil ambassadors spoke of how delighted they were to receive this special recognition from Councillor Graham Barton.

To help other schools on their journey this year, Netherthird Primary shared how they took some of the action points from each theme of their bronze journey and expanded on these and reaching out to a larger audience, helped to secure their Silver Award.​

Equipped with lots of ideas from the morning sessions, the young people, with the support of their class teachers, corporate officers, elected members and partner agency representatives, began drafting a Clean Green action plan specific to their establishment.

But by far the most exciting part of the day was the launch of a new Climate Change mascot - Windy the Wind Turbine, which was designed by Noah from New Cumnock Primary. Windy will lead a new Power Down initiative, sharing top tips and ideas to reduce energy and water consumption.

Power Down encourages schools and Early Childhood Centres to reduce energy and each establishment that signs up to the initiative will complete a monthly energy reduction challenge. Following the completion of each challenge, they will collect major parts of a wind turbine until they have a complete structure at the end of the session. Challenges include analysing energy and water usage, which has been supported by the Council's Energy Team through the development of graphs for each facility to use and the Windy Widnae/ Windy Wid challenge, where they will be encouraged to follow Windy’s ten top tips.

Councillor Graham Barton, Spokesperson for Planning, Property and Environment was joined at the event by Councillors Douglas Reid, Neal Ingram, Maureen McKay, Sally Cogley, Graham Boyd and Kevin McGregor who all worked in groups with the children and young people. Councillor Barton said: “What an incredible and inspiring day we had with our children and young people. The conference was led by them; they had the opportunity to share best practice to encourage others to think innovatively about how we can address the climate emergency as a local authority but also as a community. They also had the opportunity to make a personal pledge and commit to making positive changes at home.

“All their feedback will be assessed by the Climate Change team and I know that there will be plenty of ideas that we can implement moving forward.

“In addition to the great work by our children and young people, Vicky McWilliam (Principal Teacher of Climate Change and Active Travel) and Natasha Caldow (Climate Change Officer) really pulled out all the stops to launch some very exciting initiatives including Journey to Jupiter and Power Down. But I think it is safe to say that the highlight of the day was the launch of the new Climate Change mascot, Windy. I am not sure where Natasha was when Windy visited, but I am sure she would have loved to see everyone’s reaction. Windy is the ‘face’ of Power Down, which has been designed to reduce energy usage and water usage in our facilities and I am looking forward to seeing some positive results by next June.”