Green campaigners are awash with enthusiasm following the success of a Schools Eco Conference in Alton.

Nearly 100 students from eleven local schools took part in the second Young ACAN (Alton Climate Action Network) event at the Alton Maltings on Monday, July 1.

The event had a ‘From Me to the Sea’ theme with the aim of teaching youngsters about the importance of protecting our watery ecosystems from the River Wey to the oceans.

Students from the likes of Eggar’s and Amery Hill took part along with pupils from nine Alton-area primary schools.

The conference was planned by a team of local teachers and began with an introduction from Young ACAN leader and event organiser, Emma Young.

She said: “What was particularly special about this year’s conference was the collaboration between schools.

“Through this collaboration, we are sharing the message to our young people that collectively we care about their future.

She added: “We want to equip them with the skills and knowledge which they need, now and in the future, to help protect our planet.”

Emma’s speech was followed by a short presentation from Georgie May of the Final Straw Foundation ahead of a thought-provoking workshop for secondary students called ‘Does one plastic bottle matter?’

Young ACAN Eco Conference PIC2
(Sophie Jones)

There were nine different workshops centred around science and nature, the arts and plastic and recycling with two being linked with the Alton Arts Festival.

Festivalgoers also got the chance to see their handiwork as a recycled octopus created out of single-used plastic is now on display in Alton College.

Other workshops included a rare chance to explore life in the River Wey and our oceans using microscopes and magnifying glasses. Another bonus for youngsters was and a hands-on visit to the pop-up Fill Up shop led by owner Louise Bagnall.

Louise said: “It was fantastic to be asked to host a workshop at the Young ACAN Conference – all the children were knowledgeable and passionate about climate issues.

“It really brought home just how important what we are trying to achieve is. We’re striving to build a sustainable future for their generation and generations to come.”

The conference concluded with students being given the chance to share what they had experienced and learned with visiting parents and special guests.

They included EHDC’s Emily Young, who funded the event, with the Eco Conference being declared a huge success by workshop leaders, visiting students and their teachers.

“I enjoyed the whole conference because it was fun,” said Alec, a Year 3 pupil at Bentley CE Primary School in a resounding endorsement of the conference.

“It was also really good to learn all about Young ACAN”.

Young ACAN was founded in 2021 as the youth version of its parent organisation. It aims to give young people in the Alton area a voice for nature and the environment either through its work with the Young ACAN ambassadors or through collaboration with local schools.

For more information about the work of Young ACAN, visit www.altonclimatenetwork.org.uk