We Have A Dream: Author and activist Dr Mya-Rose Craig on the young people changing the world
Published on: 01 September 2021
Dr Mya-Rose Craig, or “Birdgirl”, is the author of We Have a Dream: Meet 30 Young Indigenous People and People of Colour Protecting the Planet. We asked her about her environmental activism and what young people can do to get involved.
Dr Mya-Rose Craig. Photo Credit Oliver Edwards. Copyright Dr MC Birdgirl Ltd
What inspired you to write this book?
As someone who is involved in the climate change movement and who has family that is experiencing climate change in other countries, I am a big believer in climate justice. I found it annoying that the same really small group of people were getting a platform from the media over and over again, and none of them were from the Global South or from indigenous communities, so I thought, fine, I’ll do it myself, and decided to amplify the voices of people all over the world. One of the things I wanted to do in particular was seek out the voices of people of colour and indigenous activists because they are so important to the environmental movement and we just aren’t given that much opportunity to hear from these people.
And what inspired your own environmental activism?
The thing that I really wanted to communicate in the book was that you can make change no matter how big or small or old or young you are – if you care about something, you can go out and try and make it better. So many of these activists were so young when then started and I wanted to make a book that encouraged kids to go out and change the world.
In We Have a Dream, you interviewed 30 activists and campaigners from around the world aged 30 or under. What have you learnt from some of them?
So many different things. I learnt a lot from literally every person I spoke to. The overall thing was learning from people who are already on the frontline in terms of campaigning and how much that can teach you. SO many of them were tenacious or inspirational or strong of passionate and they all had so much to say. The book is literally called We Have a Dream and the common theme was that if you have a dream you need to go out and make change happen.
Illustration: Sabrena Khadeja
You’re going to University later this year – how do you plan to continue your activism there?
I think education is so so important if you can get those opportunities, and I’m going off to study sociology, anthropology and politics and all of that is going to lend itself to my activism.
In terms of tangible things… I still have my charity Black2Nature, I’m hopefully going to be getting involved in COP26, I’m still going to be joining protests – I don’t think it’s in my nature to stop carrying on as I am.
What tips would you have for parents in terms of talking to their children about climate change?
Kids aren’t stupid – a lot of people think kids know less than they do. I spoke to someone from Newsround who said in some research they’d done, four out of five kids were suffering from eco-anxiety of some kind. The stress of how we’re going to cope with a planet in crises. Kids want to have honest conversations, but I also think a bit of hope is also important.
And what are some useful actions families can do now?
I think if you have younger kids, some of the tangible actions, which might seem smaller, like sorting the recycling and composting waste, where you can see the difference you are making, can have the most impact.
The youth strikes for climate are so friendly to families with kids, and I think that’s another way of combatting eco-anxiety.
Last, do you have any other favourite books about climate change for children?
My publishers of We Have a Dream have made some great environmental books like Old Enough to Save the Planet and Earth’s Aquarium but there are loads of other great resources out there that help you to have honest conversations with your kids.
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