Envision are an organisation that I am very well versed with. They mentor young adults and help them create projects of their choice. An example of a project was a cat walk fashion shows to raise awareness about the pressures on teenagers to conform to a certain unachievable stereotype.
In November Envision held their annual introductory event to the Envision programme for their students at Villa Park and Envision were kind enough to invite Birmingham Friends of the Earth to run a workshop for the students on environmental issues. Having been heavily involved with Envision in the past, being one of their mentors for two years, I was very happy to run the workshop along with Jake. We consulted with Julien on what the sessions should be about, the structure and the content. Buoyed by the prospect of a free lunch we arrived and set up for the first workshop. The students were assembling in the main hall, as a band played pleasant an inoffensive light rock music.
Unfortunately lunch was not until 4pm, but Jake and I continued on anyway. In the first session we had about 15 students. After a few ice breakers we introduced the idea about Green jobs and how good they could be for the economy, although understandably this drew a bit of a blank from the students. They are far away from the world of work so it did not seem that relevant to them. I can empathise as when I was their age I had no idea what I wanted to do career wise. We then moved on to some photos from our Clean British Energy Exhibition. The photos were of solar panels and wind turbines, initially they did spark some debate, but the exhibition was limited in scope so we had to move on pretty quickly.
The session really kicked off when we asked the students to design possible projects about environmental issues that affect them, which helped because it related more to their actual lives. At first we talked about the issues that affect them, things like poor public transport and recycling. We split into smaller groups where one mentor paired with each group to help the students design a project. As the session came near to the end the groups presented their ideas to the other groups. Luckily for us it was then lunchtime, meaning that I got to eat enough food for four people, while Jake enjoyed a normal amount of food. There was the obligatory street dance and an engaging and a motivational speech from Envision Grad Mita Desai.
I was dragged away from lunch to help run a second workshop by Jake. In the second session we focussed more on the project design than the Green Jobs agenda as that was more engaging for the students. More great proposals were suggested by the students in their presentations. Project ideas included; widening recycling in their sixth forms, hosting a fashion show involving recycled and upcycled clothes and creating an allotment in their college garden. Hopefully the students appreciated the chance to learn how the Green agenda actually applies to their lives and can be fun to run a project on.
After the second session ended we enjoyed the closing speeches and were able to blag our way onto the coach back to the city centre for free. We even managed to grab a quick interview and a photo with the keynote speaker Mita. ( photo below)
Overall both Jake and I enjoyed our first workshop on the Green Agenda. The students came up with some innovative idea proposals and were able to think about what that wanted to achieve in their future projects. Lessons have been learnt and we look forward to hopefully working with Envision on future events!