Over 150 high school students traded places with their teachers today, presenting interactive workshops on sustainability issues as part of the Kids Teaching Kids program.
Students from four schools across New South Wales and Victoria converged on Kirrawee High School for the event, discussing issues including water scarcity, domestic violence, homelessness and cyber bullying.
The program is supported by Sydney Airport and Qantas to inspire the next generation of leaders to solve sustainability challenges.
Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather said Kids Teaching Kids encouraged students to share their insights on how to solve some of the community’s most complex challenges.
“It’s inspiring to see the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of students involved in Kids Teaching Kids and we’re delighted to empower them with this unique program,” Ms Mather said.
“Sustainability is part of our DNA at Sydney Airport and we recognise we play a role in building strong, local communities.
“Kids Teaching Kids is a great example of this in action. We’re proud to bring young leaders together, and Kirrawee High School’s event has showcased how powerful young minds collaborating can be.”
Qantas Head of Environment Alan Milne said Qantas is always looking at ways to support the wider community in understanding sustainability and environmental issues.
“We’re really pleased to have the opportunity to provide mentoring to the Kids Teaching Kids students as they navigate some big and often complex topics.
“At Qantas, inspiring and influencing others is one of the core principles of our Future Planet program, which encompasses our sustainability and environmental initiatives such as fuel efficiency, carbon offsetting and inflight recycling,” Mr Milne said.
“It’s great to see kids taking an interest in sustainability issues early and we’re proud to have been able to share our knowledge and see the next generation of decision makers teaching their fellow students and helping to bring each other along the journey.”
Kirrawee High School science teacher Aaron Cook said Kids Teaching Kids gives students an opportunity to build collaborative problem solving skills by developing creative solutions to complex real world issues.
“Through Kids Teaching Kids, students have leveraged emerging technologies, industry partners, and community experts to inform primary research and design innovative presentations,” Mr Cook said.
“For instance, a group of our students worked together to prepare an immersive workshop so the audience could experience the challenges faced by people with physical and sensory disabilities.”
The disability workshop presented by Kirrawee High School students Zoe, Sophie, Beth, Jess and Taya was inspired by their own personal experiences. Zoe shares a close bond with her uncle Jamie, who is physically disabled after a devastating car accident when he was 21 years old. Sophie was inspired by her younger sister Kate, who is thriving in her academic and social life despite impaired vision and hearing.
“These young women have shown courage and maturity beyond their years and hope that through these experiences, their audience will develop empathy, consideration and respect for those around them,” Mr Cook said.
“By partnering with Qantas, Sydney Airport and Kids Teaching Kids, the students hope that their message will have a far reaching impact.”
Founder and Managing Director of Kids Teaching Kids Arron Wood said Kirrawee High School’s event highlighted the impact of peer-to-peer teaching.
“If we just teach young people about complex and confronting issues without giving them the solutions, they can become overwhelmed and apathetic,” Mr Wood said.
“At Kids Teaching Kids events, students walk away with a heightened sense of their ability to educate and inspire others to take action and make a difference in their community.
“They also learn how to collaborate to achieve a goal, and have fun doing it.”
The event also included students from The Henry Lawson High School and Lucas Heights Community School in NSW, and Worawa Aboriginal College in Victoria.
In 2016, 13,500 students participated in Kids Teaching Kids events across the country, tackling a range of sustainability and environmental topics including biodiversity, waste reduction, alternate energy sources and how the industry is addressing carbon emissions.
As part of Sydney Airport and Qantas support for the program, mentoring, study tours and relevant resources were provided to participants.