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Deep and Sticky Climate Change Education in Global Girl Scouting

When my civic life and professional know-how converge have a tendency to become rather impactful educational experiences that spark curiosity and learning for all involved, including me, the facilitator.

My expertise as a climate change educator focused on climate justice, systemic solutions, and collective actions was leveraged during a recent Colorado adult Global Girl Scout training focused on resiliency held at Nuestra Cabaña World Center in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.

Half a day was spent learning about climate change, climate justice, and collective systemic solutions by diving in deep to planetary systems and mechanisms of climate change, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), SDG badge program, climate justice, exploring the voices and art of global young adults, exploring our own climate emotions, and a collective art project.


I led a small team of Colorado Girl Scout volunteers in creating an expanded adult version of the 2024 World Thinking Day activity pack which was focused on finding innovative solutions to climate change, understanding climate justice, and how we can create a future we all want to be part of around the world. Each year since 1926 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world celebrate World Thinking Day on February 22 by learning about and taking action on the global issues that affect their local communities, connecting with each other, and having fun together.


It's not often that Girl Scout volunteers have access to such robust training that is intended for them as adults first rather than the girls they lead and mentor. I find that adults need training and opportunities to explore big complex ideas and issues for their own intellectual lifelong learning. And then, most of the time, they become more inspired and confident to take the lead and integrate their new learning into their contexts; in this case their Girl Scout programs. This is also true with formal teachers. If all we do is model how to teach student lessons and activities, we haven’t really prioritized the teacher as a living breathing human lifelong learner who is potentially very interested in the topic for themselves first as citizens and community member. We need to prioritize developing leadership, knowledge, and inspiration in our formal and nonformal educators.


During this workshop, many of the activities we utilized are internationally recognized and help to foster long lasting authentic learning experiences. I learned about and was trained for a few of these projects during my time at the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. The rest come from nationally and internationally recognized climate change education organizations and initiatives that I use in many of my climate change education workshops. Here is the flow of activities we did in our workshop:


  • We began the session with a Climate Fresk mini-workshop. I am a trained facilitator of this program and enjoy walking adults though this collaborative hands-on experience that teaches the fundamental science behind climate change and empowers participants to take action. Working together small groups, participants sort and link together 42 cards that address human activities that emit greenhouse gasses, climate change due to human activity, impacts on the oceans, primary impacts of climate change, the health and biodiversity crisis, extreme weather events, and consequences for humanity into one big concept map. The concept map helps participants see the many connections and relationships between so many complex ideas.

  • Playing a board game “Go Goals!” centered on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was an effective and fun method to introduce the SDGs and get everyone talking about the challenges and issues around the world facing humanity.

  • Inviting Pamela Kiambi, WAGGGS Program Coordinator for the UN Challenge Badge Program, to zoom in from her office in Nairobi, Kenya was a treat. Leveraging relationships and utilizing zoom allowed everyone (and a few others who zoomed in from Colorado) to interact with WAGGGS leadership and learn about this underutilized global issues badge program for girls and young women.

Zoom screen at Nuestra Cabana
Pamela Kiambi speaking on zoom from Kenya about the YUNGA Challenge Badges
  • Climate justice is not a well understood concept by most people from the Global North from my experience. Bridging the topic from SGDs to climate justice using a short video “What is Climate Justice?” was eye opening for participants and visually represented some of the most unjust climate change impacted communities not only globally, but also in the USA.

  • Then, we shifted to truly listening to the voices and viewing the artwork of young adults from around the world using the Turn it Around! cards. “Turn it Around! Flashcards for Education Futures” is a learning tool for adults, made by youth, to reimagine our approach to education, and our relationship with nature and the living world during this time of climate crisis. Typically, flashcards are designed by educators for students and children. This deck of flashcards is designed by youth for education policymakers, politicians, and teachers to challenge them to think, see and act in new ways. By flipping who teaches who, this project is a reminder that everyone – and everything – must change.

  • All this climate change information, data, and community impacts can really hit the heart strings and weigh one down as it is very heavy, painful, and rather depressing. Many people are experiencing climate anxiety around the world. The Climate Mental Health Network has developed excellent tools and resources for young people and adults to help individuals and communities recognize the signs and manage the emotional impacts of climate change. We did activities with the climate emotion wheel, writing meditations and journaling, and creative art therapy.

Engaging with the Climate Emotions Wheel
  • Finally, we worked together and used use our imagination and creativity to imagine a thriving future for our world. Through a collaborative watercolor mural, we painted a picture of the world we wanted to build together as a Girl Guide and Girl Scout Movement. This was done in sync with everyone in the Movement who completed the 2024 World Thinking Day activity pack. We can find others’ art projects using these hashtags on social media: #WTD2024 and #OURTHRIVINGFUTURE.

Facilitating a process of learning the science, understanding global commitments to solutions, seeing the injustices systemically woven into it all, listening to young people and viewing their art, naming our own emotions and anxieties, coming together and painting a visual image for a future we want to work toward for all, and recognizing we are part of global Movement who is also doing the same can be powerful. It is a gift to get to bring people together for such deep sticky learning over 4 hours of connection and engagement. So often we do not have the gift of adequate time needed for such learning. This was a special opportunity.


It is a dream that Nuestra Cabaña World Center will become the WAGGGS hub for climate change and sustainability education and action for the 153 Girl Guide and Girl Scout member organizations around the world. Activities such as what we did for Word Thinking Day 2024 begin to set a tone of possibility and working toward a future we all want to be part of. May these types of programs and activities be central to the goals and purpose of Nuestra Cabaña for many decades to come.





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