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August 19, 2020

First Online Academy in Japan!

The 1st Online Academy in Japan took place on Aug 15th, 2020. 15 children from 11 different schools were waiting for the Academy to start. The event was free-of-charge for all the attending children, aged between 9 and 16.

The Academy began with some welcoming words by Miku Higashi, 15-years-old Climate Justice Ambassador and moderator of this Academy. After some icebreakers, the full attention of the children turned to the presentation “Now we children save the world!” given and recorded by 25 children (5 – 18 years old) from 6 different countries in Japanese. Complex topics, such as sources of CO2, global warming, photosynthesis, the climate crisis and global justice were presented in a suitable way for children. After the presentation, the participants were given the time to ask questions.

In the subsequent part the children learned about global distribution of environmental issues and global justice in the so called “World Game”. The children were asked to choose a continent from a world map as if they were Climate Refugees, where they learned that the climate crisis is happening in any part of the world. In the end, the world map was completely full with pictures of climate crisis. We understood that we are all in one world and all connected. This issue is not about someone else; this issue applies to all of us. Everyone needs to take responsibility about this issue and work together to save our planet. We learned about the world’s population, wealth, CO2 emissions, inequality, and inequity. Wealthy countries emit more CO2 and those in developing countries are more affected.

In order to take action and speak up for their future, the children need good presentation and speaking skills. The children were divided into small groups to practice public speaking skills. They learned five key points for good presentations and practiced short passages to be the best speaker. They came back to the main room after practicing well and one of the participants from each group presented to everyone. We all gave feedbacks to each speaker which also allowed us to understand what good presentations should be like.  

Next, Nagisa Sato, 16-years-old Climate Justice Ambassador gave a presentation as a tree speaker. The children went around their houses and counted as many products made of tree as they could. They learned how important trees are in our lives. Since this was an Online Academy, Miku introduced how to plant trees online in a website she made.

During the "World Café", after a short lunch break, we did some brainstorming about how to take action and plan goals. Participants were divided into small groups and had to answer 20 questions each group. This was set up as a competition, so they concentrated on collecting ideas to questions like how to get the attention of the media, how to motivate adults, friends, and classmates, and how to organize a planting party. They found great answers and gathered ideas quickly. Back at the main room, they shared their ideas. It was a fun competition which also made them concentrate, think faster, and focused on the activities.

Afterwards the children gathered in their school groups and planned their own projects, which they would want to implement after the academy.

While the participants were planning their own action plans in small breakout rooms, guests joined the main room of zoom for the final program. This was a great surprise to children when they came back to the main room. The guests for the 1st Online Academy were Mr. Winnie Chikhwaya, Plant-for-the-Planet Coordinator, and Ms.Kazuyo Sato, teacher in Nobeoka, Miyazaki prefecture, who gave messages to the children. The children proudly presented their action plans and their ideas from the World Café and together with the special guests, we all listened with excitement.

This was the online Academy, using a website that Miku developed as a tool. This was used within the Academy and will be the educational platform here where the new Climate Justice Ambassadors can come back after the Academy and continue the discussion about their plans, etc… Also 10 video messages were sent from environmental activists in Nobeoka and Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture, and introduced one by one between the agenda. Each video summarized, in a couple of minutes, their activities and sent messages to the new Climate Justice Ambassadors, so they learned what kind of environmental activities are happening in real life in Japan and to could get some ideas and planned how they wanted to take actions in the future.

A fun day had come to an end. Apart from the experience and newly developed knowledge, all participants were appointed as Climate Justice Ambassador and received the certificates. The organizers and guests were extremely impressed by the engagement of the children.

The academy was made possible thanks to the contributions of video messages from environmental activists in Nobeoka, Miyazaki prefecture: Takashi Tomiyama, Takashi Tsurunaga, Koji Tanihira, Hiroshi Nonoshita, Takanobu Saeki, Makoto Takafuji, Shoji Matsuda, Katsuyoshi Ito, Yoshio Kourogi, Yuka Yoshioka, Yukie Kanai, Norihiro Yanagita, Takashi Shiraishi and Aiko Ueno.

A huge “thank you” goes out to all the helpers, especially parents of participants for setting up computers with some online tools and practicing how to use them prior to the Academy. This Academy would not have been possible without their help.

Special thanks go to the Plant-for-the-Planet Program Coordinator Chiori Higashi, Moderator Miku Higashi (15), Co-moderator Nagisa Sato (16), Minato Sato (14) and Naoko Sasaki (13), Airi Sato and Hiroko Sasaki. They have been working as a great team together for four years, and, this time, they ran the first Plant-for-the-Planet Online Academy in the world!

To remember this wonderfull an exciting Academy, we collected some photos that you can find here.

Do you want to become a Climate Justice Ambassador yourself? Register here.