Children across the globe were invited to tell the world, through art, what needs to be done to save our planet from climate change. These are their messages.

An entry in the children's climate art contest shows the earth and raisedd fists.

Julia, 10, from Brazil created this logo for her local news outlet, Jornal da Criança based in São Paulo, Brazil as part of the How to Save the Planet: Step 1 initiative.

How to Save the Planet; Step 1 is an initiative of Global Youth & News Media for The Writing’s on the Wall, a joint project of News Decoder and the Climate Academy to create innovative resources and strategies for schools across Europe and the world to integrate climate science into their teaching.

Children will bear the most lasting brunt of climate change.

My nonprofit, Global Youth & News Media, has organized a project encouraging producers of news to invite their youngest readers and viewers to submit art that tells leaders what needs to happen next to prevent this worldwide disaster, using the hashtag #HowToSaveOurPlanetStep1. The ‘Step 1’ focus brings the huge challenge of climate solutions down to one first step for doing that.

#HowToSaveOurPlanetStep1 is an additional element of The Writing’s On The Wall project, which is providing resources and ideas for students, editors and teachers to engage with climate change issues. We realized that a voice from children about solutions was greatly needed to complete the project.

Teenagers had been challenged to do profiles of climate champions who had had some success. Teachers and editors had also been well-served. Now younger children could have their say in multiple formats about solutions: what the first next step should be in saving the planet.

A global response

Jornal da Criança, based in São Paulo, Brazil, serves more than 20,000 subscribers online and in print in English and Portuguese and with a monthly podcast. Second-year primary student Pedro, 10, made several demands in this drawing using one of the borders that were provided in project. Here’s a gallery of what others contributed.

An illustration of people caring for the environment by 10-year-old Pedro of Brazil

The submission from second-year primary student Pedro, age 10, to Jornal da Criança.

In the run-up to Earth Day 2023, the first phase of the initiative, Julia, 10, from Brazil created a logo for Jornal da Criança, her local news outlet (shown in the top photo).

Julia gained fame after setting up an online interview show and being recognized as one of the youngest environmental activists in Brazil at a United Nations Program for the Environment, in June 2021, when she was just eight years old.

Julia, 10, from Brazil

Julia, 10, from Brazil created the featured logo above.

Slovenia’s Časoris, which provides online news to nearly 200,000 Slovenian schoolchildren, ran a competition for the first three grades of primary school that asked: “What kind of planet do you want?” It was the first news organization to join the project.

Dr. Sonja Merljak Zdovc, founder and editor, explained why: “I think that we put a tremendous burden on the shoulders of our youth: the responsibility for the future of our planet. It is only right then to listen to what they have to say. We as news creators for children can open up media space for their thoughts and ideas.”

At Bilingual Elementary School I in Slovenia, 10 students made an artful tree that was one of the top winners for the first grade (students roughly 7 years old). Then they decorated it with their ideas for saving the planet. Among them were both illustrations and quotes from famous people. The ideas ranged from the small, turning off the lights, to the massive, stopping pollution.

Two pieces of art from the How to Save the Planet: Step 1 initiative.

An artful tree made by Lendava, 10 from Bilingual Elementary School I in Slovenia.

The earth depicted in an art submission to Časoris by a kindergarten student in Slovenia.

The earth depicted in an art submission to Časoris by a kindergarten student in Slovenia.

Thirty-six Slovenian six-year olds first worked together to create two large posters in Kindergarten Radenka – Radenska mehurčka for Časoris. They focused on the importance of water, especially on the problem of its pollution with plastic.

Two climate change art challenge entries from Radenci Kindergarten in Slovenia.

Two posters created by students from Kindergarten Radenka in Slovenia.

Junior Lens of India created a competition that resulted in a full page of vibrantly colored winning art, including the work by Subhasri, 9, shown below to the left and by Jeevaganesh, 10, shown below to the right.

“In India the motivation for participation is to have it as a competition,” said editor Aneesh Liawala. “Parents and children look forward to competing and being recognized.”

An illustration for the How to save the planet: Step 1 children's art initiative

Two examples of art submitted by Junior Lens of India.

Illustration for How to Save the Planet Step 1 by Jeevaganesh S. 10

More than 100 children submitted their handiwork to Joca in Brazil in the run-up to Earth Day, including these demands for big moves: make nonpolluting car fuel (Lucas 8), control plastics (Lais, 8), stop massive forest fires (Heitor, 8) and end poverty (Alice, 10).

“Children … have a voice, but what they need are opportunities to be heard,” said Joca editor Maria Carolina Christianini. “And certainly, young people have a lot to say on the issue of climate change, as they are growing up amidst the consequences of, for example, global warming. I hope this initiative is seen by those who can now make the big decisions that will change the course of the Earth’s climate.”

More than 100 children submitted their handiwork to Joca in Brazil.

Four out of 100 drawings submitted to Joca in Brazil.

Entire classes participated at the invitation of Kid Scoop News, based in the U.S. state of California. “Kid Scoop News has been delighted to participate in this wonderful endeavor to let students feel heard and seen, with both their words and their art,” said Katherine Llodrá, the news outlet’s Teacher Engagement & Marketing Coordinator.

“We received dozens of thoughtful responses from individual students as well as entire classrooms! Clearly, these children understand the challenges and need to experience hope as it relates to being a part of the solution. This is where it starts! Thank you for exposing them to the powerful benefits of news media!”

Example of artwork submitted to Kid Scoop News in the United States.

Artwork submitted to Kid Scoop News in California.

Several of science teacher Julian Roque’s 10- and 12-year-old students at Joseph Weller Elementary School in California got to the main core of the solution in their photos for Kid Scoop News: greatly reduce CO2 levels and the burning of fossil fuels.

“My students have been learning about energy, both the benefits and drawbacks,” Roque said. “Some of them felt strongly about greenhouse gasses, so they wanted others to see their thoughts.”

Two drawings from the How to Save the Planet: Step 1 children's art initiaive.

 Submissions by students at Joseph Weller Elementary School in California.

Three questions to consider:

  1. What are some of the demands made by the children in the drawings they composed?
  2. Why is art a good medium for youth to express their ideas and frustrations?
  3. If you were to draw something to illustrate what you think governments should do, what would you depict?
Alistair Lyon author news decoder-150x150

Aralynn Abare McMane, an adviser to News Decoder, specializes in how news media can better serve the young. She directs the French nonprofit Global Youth & News Media and is the author of "The New News for Kids," an international report originally commissioned by the American Press Institute (2017) that she hopes to update and expand later this year. She encourages donations to Ukraine's Voices of Children Foundation.

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