AN author from Looe and illustrator from Launceston have juggled homeschooling and two lockdowns to reach more than 40,000 children in Cornwall with her new books on climate change.
Bestselling author and mother of four Ellie Jackson, 41, was chosen as one of the eight winners of a joint competition run by Cornwall Council and Newquay-based Crowdfunder at the start of the November lockdown last year. Projects That Matter looked for local projects to help tackle the climate emergency, with participants each launching their own Crowdfunders. The winners received £1,000.
Ellie’s series of ‘Wild Tribe Heroes’ children’s books, which are beautifully illustrated by Launceston artist and fellow mother Laura Callwood, help children understand real environmental issues. They have reached more than 1.5-million children across the UK and received personal support from Sir David Attenborough and Prince Charles. All schools across the Duchy already have copies of her first three books on ocean plastic and now Ellie has turned her attention to the growing climate change crisis.
Ellie said: “Coping with lockdowns with four young children has been incredibly tough, as it has been for us all, so I was overwhelmed to have such support from within the Cornish community. Even in the middle of a pandemic, people are still continuing to care passionately for our environment, and I’m excited to see the children’s energy and enthusiasm in the months to come. I want to thank everyone for their kind and generous support which, unbelievably, saw the project fully funded within just a couple of weeks.”
Each book follows a well known animal as they encounter difficulties in their habitats because of the changes to their environment. A polar bear and orangutan transport children to the Arctic and Indonesian rainforest to help bring their stories to life for young readers. Together with detailed teaching resources, the books act as a springboard into the issues without being upsetting or overwhelming.
Ellie added: “It is so important to me that we engage with our children in the right way. Because each story is true to life, children can feel really connected to the animals and the problems they face, yet all the books have happy endings with positive ideas for the future. I want children to feel empowered and inspired to make changes.
“I hope that in turn, children can motivate their families, schools and wider community to get involved. I believe that it is through a gentle and optimistic approach that we will see attitudes really change. Cornwall has already started the ball rolling on single use plastic — now let’s do the same for climate change!”
Organisations, local businesses and many generous members of the community have helped to sponsor their local schools through Ellie’s Crowdfunder. The Launceston and Bude communities in particular have been very proactive in helping support their schools and within a couple of hours of the project going live, all local schools had received sponsors. Launceston charity Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID) together with Webbers Estate Agents Bude, Compass Lift Truck Services, Black Flag Tattoo, Priority 1 Fitness and Dollybird Bakes were some of the local businesses keen to help their local schools.
Sara Fell Hicks, OVAID’s co-founder said: “OVAID are proud and excited to have contributed to Buddy’s Rainforest Rescue book. We are confident that this book will provide an important resource and message to inspire the children to protect the precious rainforest. Children’s innate curiosity for nature needs to be treasured and nurtured, these are the conservationists of the future, it is their enthusiasm and knowledge that will bring about changes for the planet, both now in and in the future.”
Ellie is bringing together many environmental groups and charities that are already working hard in Cornwall, including the Eden Project and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, as well as local climate, environmental and marine conservation groups.
Cornwall Council’s ‘Carbon Neutral Youth Ambassador’ programme aims to give young people an opportunity to talk directly with policy makers at the Council and wider afield.
Janine Bisson, who helps manage the programme, has supported the books. She said: “It is really important that we support our young peoples’ education around climate change. Working with our communities to make the changes we need to protect our environment and reduce carbon will go a long way towards making a difference.”
Ellie is asking all primary and secondary schools to work towards Cornwall Climate Action Day on June 11 to coincide with the 2021 G7 summit, hosted in Carbis Bay. Schools can choose to get involved in a wide range of activities, online workshops, videos and learning opportunities that really shine a spotlight on what can be done to help tackle climate change. To find out more and to register a school’s interest visit www.cornwallclimateactionday.com