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Family-centre climate action session coming to New West

An upcoming event aims to provide a place where families can come together and build connections with other families who are passionate about climate action.
Climate change
Members of Babies for Climate Action, shown here, a group of New West moms and their little ones, were in council chambers on Sept. 9, 2019 to speak about the city's plan to tackle climate change. Council has approved a motion to consider ways of making the city more welcoming and inclusive, including creating a dedicated space in council chambers for families with young children, including toys and areas for children to move around

An upcoming event aims to provide a place where families can come together and build connections with other families who are passionate about climate action.

Babies for Climate Action and Women Transforming Cities are teaming up to explore family-centred climate action in New West. The session is on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 9 to 11 a.m. at New West Family Place, 83 Sixth St.

“The format will be informal, and I suspect kids will be giggling, laughing, squabbling, and interrupting,” said Natasha Henderson in an email to the Record. “Our agenda may need to change as the energy of the kids ebbs and flows, but having to multi-task and adapt on-the-run is pretty daily business for caregivers. Our goal is to share some information about what the city and school board are doing, and to explore how we can support that work locally. We don't have all the answers, and really want to give participants an opportunity to brainstorm various ways we can take climate action.”

Coun. Nadine Nakagawa and trustee Gurveen Dhaliwal will be attending the event. Children are welcome and encouraged.

“The event is open to anyone, though we are hoping to primarily attract parents or caregivers of small children. Everyone concerned about the planet and the climate crisis is welcome,” Henderson said. “You can be just learning about climate change, or a seasoned activist, looking to make individual changes at home, or ready to scale up your political action. We are excited to hear the ideas everyone has about how families can be more involved together.”

Henderson, a board member with Women Transforming Cities, said organizers asked to host the event at Family Place because it’s a place where families already go and where they’re comfortable. She said many parents and caregivers are struggling with overwhelming anxiety and grief about the climate, realizing what their kids will experience in their lifetime.

“There are many people who want to do more in terms of climate action beyond individual changes in the home, but either aren't sure what to do, or can't attend events because they aren't necessarily set up for kids,” she said. “For example, it's tough to get into Vancouver for a climate march with multiple kids in tow. Transit is packed and not conducive to large strollers, lines are long, kids cannot see or hear the speakers, babies have to nap, etc. Other forms of direct action, like participating in blockades, or travelling outside of the Lower Mainland to support rural action, just aren't feasible for most families with small kids.”

Because women are often the primary caregivers for young children, Henderson said women's participation in the climate movement is especially impacted.

“We want to explore what families can do together, as families. What actions can we take that allow us to fully participate in the climate movement with our kids,” she said.

In addition to planning activities to support climate action, Henderson said organizers are excited to be creating a space for families to come together and build connections with other families who are passionate about this issue.

“When I first met up with the other co-founders of Babies for Climate Action, I felt great relief in being able to talk openly about my climate anxiety as a mother,” she said. “We hope that others will find a strong sense of community and be able to lean on each other as we try to tackle what often feels like an insurmountable issue. There is so much strength and positivity that comes from being part of a bigger movement.”