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POSTED 17.4.2019

Striking for change under the media spotlight

When it comes to achieving change, the power of a story can inspire action to make things happen. Transition year student, Aoife Devlin shares her experience of joining the Students’ Strike for Climate Action and how it has created new dialogue.

Climate change is constantly on everyone’s radar, maybe the only topic in the news with coverage to rival Brexit. In school, we learn about it in a variety of subjects. But when you’re in a classroom, it can be hard to realise just how serious this issue is until you turn on the news and see it for yourself.

Reading a story about something relevant that is happening in the world today is far more effective than memorising the statistics behind them. Reading about Greta Thunberg’s story in the news encouraged myself and students all over Ireland and the world to take part in the Schools’ Strike for Climate Action.

The strike, which took place on March 15, was organised solely by students to protest about the government’s inaction to the climate crisis. The Sligo march was one of many inspired by Greta Thunberg, who has been protesting since last August with a small, hand-painted sign outside Swedish parliament.

Her lonely protest has transpired, through comprehensive media coverage, into the protest of thousands of young people around the world, me included. Thanks to all the different ways in which Greta’s story – and later that of everyone who followed in her footsteps – was told, my peers and I were inspired by one small act of defiance over 2,700 kilometres away.

As a teenager, I’m often told to sit down and wait my turn to be in charge. Everyday, I read stories from the tsunami of climate change coverage, and I feel helpless. Personally, participating in the strike was my way of finally finding a microphone to broadcast how I feel about our future.

The march itself was short and sweet. We made our way through Sligo town, a flurry of colourful signs and passionate chanting. There was a wholly positive feeling at the march, a feeling that we, as the future voters could make changes, that we had our own type of power. The sheer amount of national coverage was overwhelming, with our marches making headlines across every media in the country. We were being heard.

I don’t know exactly how much impact our strike had in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully people in important positions might finally start to take notice and make changes. More importantly though, the strike made me realise that change can start with one person’s story.

For Greta Thunberg it meant camping outside a parliament building to make people sit up and take notice. For me, if it means using public transport and committing to a reusable bottle; that’s where I’m going to start.

Aoife Devlin is a transition year student in Ursuline College, Sligo. Aoife is doing work experience with StoryLab.