By Matariki Wilson, Cook Islands Red Cross

By day Tabitha Berg is Cook Islands Red Cross Society’s office administrator, but by night, weekends and any other time she gets, Tabitha is their climate change champion, raising awareness of climate issues across the South Pacific nation.

The 21-year old has been working for Cook Islands Red Cross for nearly two years, and after attending the Pacific Red Cross Youth Climate Change Forum held in Kiribati in 2017 she became passionate about youth climate action.

“Having gained first-hand insight of the impacts of climate change during the forum encouraged me to return home and educate my fellow youth,” says Tabitha.

Since the forum in Kiribati, Tabitha has conducted classes across four separate islands within the southern group of the Cook Islands and reaching over 160 students.

Tabitha describes her climate change workshops as an informal and practical way of teaching. She conducts workshops to educate youth on the human-induced causes of climate change and how that affects the environment and future. But most importantly Tabitha says, she teaches how to reduce these impacts.

“We discuss the basic science behind climate change and I let students expand on what their interpretation is, maybe by sharing stories of observational changes within their surroundings,” says Tabitha.

“I incorporate interactive games to make it more of an easy, practical way of learning. I find that the students respond really well to it.”

Tabitha explains that prior to her climate change outreach session with the young students – she was hesitant about how to share climate change issues using complex terms to a very young audience.

The creative youngster says she came up with a simple solution on how to explain climate change.

“So, I explained to the students that there are things that ‘hurt’ the environment and things that ‘hug’ the environment!

“Conducting that session with the kids was such fun and it felt super rewarding leaving them knowing I helped them understand a thing or two about the changing climate.”

Tabitha believes that climate change needs to be more of an established topic that is regularly taught in schools and communities adding that knowledge of climate change is crucial for our generating and those to come.

“Simple acts that can be applied to our everyday lives could make all the difference, like having shorter showers, using biodegradable products, and cutting out single-use plastic, planting a tree, cycling to work twice a week or starting a worm farm.”

She believes youth can create impact and promote change by continuing to spread awareness and initiate public climate change reduction activities.

“If I, a singular youth member can advocate for the betterment of the environment, then anyone can.”