Impacts of coastal change told by school children in hard-hitting University film

The impact of coastal erosion on communities along the East Yorkshire coast has been highlighted in a new project led by the University of Hull.

Told through the voices of young people at Withernsea High School, a short film has been produced which shares the stories of those who have watched stretches of the Holderness coastline lost to the power of the sea.

Featuring a selection of poetry, music and spoken word and photography the film is part of a wider project developed by the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull, and led by researcher Katie Parsons and her team of Florence Halstead and Dr Lisa Jones.

The trio are working with young people and teachers in East Yorkshire to help create understandings and help the transfer of knowledge to the wider community to create a more resilient and better prepared community.

Katie Parsons said: “Often young people feel isolated within their communities, and decisions about their environment are often decided for them, instead of with them.

“This project allows young people to work with researchers to investigate the problems they face, to enhance the understanding of the effects of climate change on the coast and to try and come up with solutions together.

“There are many benefits to involving young people in community decision making - from increased confidence and self-belief, to a connectedness that will help to make them feel like valued members within their community.”

The project, titled INSECURE, will explore the stories of the people of Withernsea and their relationship with the dynamic coast.

Coastal erosion is an issue that generations of residents at Withernsea are acutely aware of, each having their own unique story as to how it has affected their lives and families.

With acceleration of erosion rates precited due to climate change, the people of the Holderness coast will need to be prepared for the changes in the future.

Katie said: “The hope is that by connecting the young people to climate change issues that are happening right at the centre of their own community and families, they will develop lasting pro-environmental behaviours which will result in growing a generation of climate champions.”

The film has been submitted to the Arts and Humanities Research Council film awards, as well as the Royal Geographical Society film festival.

At the end of the project, the stories and materials will be transformed into an educational and thought-provoking exhibition, which will help to inform policy makers, researchers and most importantly community members.

Professor Dan Parsons, Director at the Energy and Environment Institute, said: “This project is an exemplar of addressing the very real challenges of climate change – a global problem that needs local solutions.

“It is key that communities are engaged and empowered to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“Most importantly, engaging children and young people in this effort is vital, as it is this generation who will face the major challenge of climate change over the next century.”

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