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The unstoppable power of 10 year olds

Sustainability Strategist Rebecca Ward reflects on an empowering day at Wakefield Girls' High School EmpowHER conference


10 year olds are, on the whole, free of judgement and full of optimism. A pretty unstoppable combination, when empowered to put it to use.


Empowering young girls was exactly the aim of the Wakefield Girls'​ High School EmpowHER conference I spoke at recently. The event invited year 5 girls from across the Wakefield district to a packed agenda of sessions led by women with an array of industry, and life experience. My fellow speakers hosted workshops which provided tools and skills to build resiliency, teamwork, and cope with stress. The aim was to develop the confidence and leadership skills of all our delegates.


In the session I hosted, we took on (and beat, of course) climate change – holding our very own mini-COP. In teams, the girls discussed the relative merits of various options to reduce the emissions for their countries. Some of the options included spending budget on the transition to renewable energy or improving public transport. Countries with a larger budget could also allocate finances to support developing countries reduce their emissions. Not so dissimilar to the concept of the loss and damage fund established at COP28 which aims to support especially vulnerable countries dealing with the effects of climate change. When launched in 2023, wealthy countries pledged a combined total of just over $700m. This covers just 0.2% of the irreversible economic and non-economic losses developing countries are facing from global heating every year. Our future leaders were somewhat more liberal with pledging their budgets to developing countries.


The climate crisis knows no boundaries, and 10 year olds – it turns out – are not particularly phased by man-made boarders either. It was uplifting to see their judgement-free perspective on climate change – reflecting that we are all in this together. In fact, I was pushed to think more about my own approach. Unprompted, one young girl told me we ought to have an option to donate budget to homeless shelters, because no one else is helping them. That was pretty powerful to hear. (If you do want to be one of those to help, you can check out the UK housing and homelessness charity, Shelter).


The day was equal parts inspiring and uplifting - I hope the young girls felt similarly. It was an honour to be invited back for the second event, and I look forward to many more empowering events to come.