The Social and Health Education Project (SHEP) is a Community Education and Development Project established in Ireland in 1974. One of their initiatives is the SHEP Earth Aware which seeks to bring awareness to the series of human activities contributing to the climate and biodiversity crisis, “the web of life is being seriously damaged by human being’ unsustainable lifestyle.”
SHEP Earth Aware began in 2014 and works to help the community “gain some knowledge about what is happening and some understanding of how and why it is happening”. The team organises various earth-related events, including courses and workshops, talks, conferences, guided nature walks and DVD showings in collaboration with other groups to raise awareness on the environment.
SHEP Earth Aware has also set up the Elders for Earth initiative in 2019 to empower many adults who are concerned about climate and environmental issues to join together to make their voices heard by people in power. Members are free to choose actions such as targeted lobbying campaigns by e-mail, letter writing, phone call, or in face-to-face meetings. Members may also join occasional rallies or marches.
In the same year, SHEP Earth Aware organised the Cork Conference on Intergenerational Climate Justice with the collaboration with other groups in the City Hall. A panel of climate activists were present, and more than 200 people participated, made up of equal numbers of teenagers and older people.
In his keynote address President Michael D. Higgins stated, “We must urgently do everything we can as a gesture towards inter-generational solidarity to safeguard a benign future existence on this planet.”
In 2020, the environmental group won the IPB Pride of Place Award for the SHEP Earth Aware and Elders for Earth initiative in Category Five – Community Climate Action Initiative. The group was praised for telling, “a persuasive story of climate chaos, climate justice, intergenerational justice and loss of bio-diversity thanks to the efforts of their volunteers.”
Members of the stirring group for Elders for Earth Frank Dorr and Eileen Lynch were also the winners of the Cork Environmental Forum’s Annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in the category – Community and Voluntary Award in 2020. The pair received glowing recognition for their work in leading the development of the Social and Health Education Project and Elders for Earth and spreading the understanding of climate change at community level.
“SHEP Earth Aware and Elders for Earth continue to explore and support ways in which they, as individuals, as members of the SHEP community, as members of other communities of various kinds, and as citizens, might deepen their cherishing of the earth and its people and contribute to constructive change.”
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