Blogs Clubs and Activities Winter Term

Student Blog: Assembly on Protect Our Winters

25 November 2019

Winter is approaching and the students in Sustainability Club are beginning to plan how to raise funds and awareness for POW - Protect Our Winters. To introduce this, Liza and Nastya (G12, Russia) planned, wrote and led an assembly this morning to explain to their Surval audience what POW is and how, by supporting POW, we can unite to help reduce our carbon footprint and, ultimately, save our winters.

Also in some pictures is Sustainability Club member, Faith (G12, South Africa), who is leading the advertising and sales of POW merchandise as part of fundraising and awareness raising.

Read on for the girls' assembly script...

Slide 1:

Good morning everyone! In this assembly today we are going to tell you all about the Protect Our Winters organisation.

Slide 2:

First of all, we’ll start with a short video that captures the need to act. Now.

Slide 3:

You might be wondering who the guy in the video was. The one who was in the suit in the conference and then came down the steep slope is the same person. His name is Jeremy Jones and he is the founder of non-profit organisation Protect Our Winters in 2007 in the United States. As a professional snowboarder in the early 2000s, Jeremy Jones found that more and more ski resorts started to close much earlier in the season. This is how he actually observed the effect of climate change with his own eyes. It pushed him to find out more about the problem and one important thing that he realised was that there were no organisations that would collaborate with the snow sports community to action against climate change. He was inspired to start one and now POW turns passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates. POW leads a community of athletes, thought pioneers and forward-thinking business leaders to affect systemic solutions to climate change.

Slide 4:

Initially started in America, Protect Our Winters now operates in ten more countries: Canada, France, Austria, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, New Zealand, United States, and, of course, Switzerland. Each of them has a goal aimed particularly at the country POW operates in as well as their own website, shop, projects and events taking place.

Slide 5:

The main general goal of Protect Our Winters is reducing climate change’s effects on our sports and local economies BY informing, minimising the impacts and working together towards protecting our winters.

Slide 6:
You might be wondering: how can we contribute towards POW achieving their goal? So, this is the strategy that POW came up with and they called it “The climate activist’s roadmap”. 

Slide 7:
The first thing they are suggesting you can do is “Find your biggest lever for change”. So just think about your personal achievements or something you are good at. For example, if you have a large social media following, or if you like to write, or you are good at science. These are just some examples of how you can use your skills and opportunities to help.

Slide 8:

Another very significant way of informing and provoking action is “Speaking up”. Again, you can use your social media to post and raise awareness. But you can also just talk to your family and friends about the problem of climate change; just discuss it with them. Moreover, writing an article on the topic and sending it to a local paper to encourage people to act is also a great thing to do. And of course, joining a climate march, which is what some of the Surval girls have done already – thank you! Maybe the next climate march some of our students would go to we could make some signs with POW on them to help raise awareness of this important organisation. 

Slide 9:

If we want to make a change it is essential that we start with ourselves first. So pretty much all of us now know the ways in which we as individuals can all reduce our carbon footprint. If not, POW’s website has a whole section about it. In addition to that, as you can see, they have a link to the website where anyone can measure their footprint. Not only we can measure our footprints, but also the footprints of small businesses. Large businesses can have access to advanced tools and expert help. We can all learn about the life cycle impacts of the products we are using. 

Slide 10:

To start changing your habits you need to educate yourself first. Here are some examples of websites and books you can go on to and read to go deeper into the problem. These are available on the American version of the website here.

Slide 11:

Another way of educating ourselves is having someone in our school come from the POW organisation and leading an assembly. This “Hot Planet/Cool Athletes” assembly actually took place in Surval last year and Nastya is going to tell you more about it, as well as about what else the Sustainability Club has done in the last year and a half to support Protect Our Winters and make changes to help our planet. 

Slide 12:

So, two years ago Ms Macleod started Sustainability club in Surval to raise awareness amongst students and teachers and to refine Surval’s contribution to the climate change, and then introduced us to the organisation of POW so we could start supporting Protect Our Winters ourselves by raising funds and making donations. So what actions did we actually take to accomplish a positive change in Sustainability club and towards POW? We’ll share some of them with you...

Slide 13:

Last year, the newly created Surval Sustainability club began its work towards positive change by cutting down on the number of plastic water bottles used on our regular ski Thursdays and ensuring students use their reusable Surval ones – or POW ones! On top of that, during our Christmas and Secret Santa preparations, Sustainability club members wrapped presents in our home-made recyclable paper for a small donation and beautifully decorated each present, which made them very special as gifts.

Besides our weekly club meetings, our first main event was on Sustainability Day, when we worked on creating a range of resources to further improve sustainability at Surval and raise students’ awareness. We sourced crates to be used in each classroom of the school for recycling paper and made colourful cards with friendly tips on how to avoid wasting energy, which you can find around the school. Following this, we then started the Surval Sustainability Garden, where we planted vegetables, herbs and bee friendly plants. Together with Mrs Reid, our tutor group did research on which plants absorb carbon dioxide and thus create a healthier living environment, and then we planted those on our balconies to attract bees. This proves that just because you are not in the club, it does not mean you can’t do something.

Slide 14:

When the ski season started, the Surval Sustainability Club contacted Protect Our Winters Switzerland to invite them to Surval in order to deliver their “Hot Planet / Cool Athletes” presentation, which aims to inform students about the issue of climate change and empower them with a sense of how they can be part of fighting it. In the beginning of February, the visit from POW took place. We had the honour of receiving Caroline George and Luc Heering from the organisation Protect Our Winters. They came to talk to the students and staff about the extremely important topic of climate change. This was done by a presentation, in which they exposed the issues, explained how the POW campaign works, and shared their personal views about the need to motivate the mind of society into positive and meaningful change.

Slide 15:

The point is that we can all help. Even if it’s something really small, we are still making a difference. Even better though, is if we can try to be part of a big change. Greta Thunberg is a great example. She is the sixteen year old Swedish girl who, last Autumn, started going on strike from school every Friday to protest about climate change. Her message was: what is the point of getting an education if politicians aren’t listening to what 97% of the world’s scientists are warning us about? At first, it was just her all by herself outside the Swedish parliament with her Climate Strike sign. Now, millions of teenagers around the globe are striking regularly on Fridays to protest against global warming. Greta Thunberg is one person who inspired all that action. Every big change starts with a small step made by someone; why not to be that someone who makes the next important change?

This year we are going to fundraise for Protect Our Winters again because POW is a charity run entirely on a volunteer basis and we would like to support them by making donations. And as it is about winter, Lucia came up with the wonderful idea of having a snowball fight to raise money! We will ask the girls and staff to make donations of whatever amount they want to enter the tennis court, where the fight would take place (as soon as a good amount of snow comes!). This is just one of the fundraising events related to winter sports that we are planning on organising, so watch out for updates!

Slide 16:

Coming back to the actions towards achieving the main goal of the organisation suggested by POW, it is worth talking about actually joining them. Firstly, you can simply make a donation by entering some of your details and the amount that you want to be sent to them. Secondly, by buying POW merchandise you can raise awareness, as you will be able to wear it while you are skiing and take some pictures to post on your social media with a POW hashtag. Thank you very much to a number of you who have already signed up to buy something from the POW shop and we will give you some more details on this in the end. Thirdly, doing a fundraiser for POW is something that we can even do here in Surval, something like what Lucia came up with. Finally, you can become a volunteer by choosing one of the ways they are proposing you there and just entering your details. A representative will get back to you and help you to find your volunteering opportunity. This is how it works for the American POW, but each of the countries have something similar, so you just need to go on to their website and read a little bit more about it. 

Slide 17: 

Of course, it is important to know where your donation is going to go if you make one. So here is a diagram of where the money received by POW from donations went towards in 2018. Most of the money goes to the programme’s development: for instance, if we take communications and marketing, these include: merchandise, advertisements, website, projects for school/businesses, events and festivals, such as the Snow Safety Festival in Switzerland that took place on November the second, Mountain Clean Up Day in August, Moving Mountains Forum in September, and they have many more coming up as well. So it is worth checking their website regularly if you are interested in participating in events like these, which is a great and unique opportunity. 

Slide 18:

You can also make fundraise by using the website JustGiving, which is the world's most trusted platform for online giving. Their mission is to ensure “no great cause goes unfunded”. They are enormously proud to have helped people in 164 countries and have raised over $4.5 billion for good causes since they were founded 18 years ago. JustGiving is committed to use the best the web has to offer to help great causes reach more people, and raise more money, than anywhere else. You can set up your own JustGiving account to fundraise for your own cause.

Slide 19:

How can you donate or fundraise on this platform? Very easily. When you go on the website, you need to sign up and choose one of the two options: you can either raise money for your personal cause or for a charity of your choice. All you need to do is set a target of how much money you are hoping to raise and what you are planning to do to achieve it. For example, using the JustGiving website, you can set a target to ski a certain number of kilometers and for each kilometer you will get say $5. This way it is very fun, challenging and rewarding! And what’s more, knowing why you are doing something will give you a sense of purpose and motivation to keep going towards your goal!

Slide 20:

We are also giving you the opportunity to support POW Switzerland and raise awareness by buying POW merchandise. Faith, Katie and Lucia will be visiting form classes tomorrow to get your orders and then on Wednesday they will collect the money, so please bring the money with you to form.

Moreover, next Wednesday, the Sustainability club is going to be baking cookies with POW signs on them to raise awareness, and therefore on Thursday you will be able to try them. The cookies are going to be given to you for free, but all we would like you to do is to take a photo of yourself with the cookie (or just the cookie) and post it on your social media with a POW hashtag to raise awareness.  

Slide 21:

I think that everybody who has ever tried skiing or snowboarding knows that it is the closest thing to flying and the feelings you get are unbeatable! However, if you haven’t tried it yet, I am sure you will love it once we start going on the slopes in January! Liza and I love skiing so much and we want to enjoy it as much as possible and we obviously want our children to experience the same joy. Therefore, we are hoping to change the future for the better to protect our winters and do everything that depends on us to stop global warming. Who is with us?)))