environment:tales is our multi-artform educational programme with neurodivergent children, currently being delivered in Leeds, London and Manchester. The project explores the theme of “the environment”, inspired by the speeches featured in Greta Thunberg’s 2019 book “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference”.
[QUOTE] ““Together and united, we are unstoppable.” (Greta Thunberg)
The term “neurodiversity” is used to describe people with variations in cognitive functioning who have conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia. According to The Local Government Association, it is estimated that around one in seven people (14%) in the UK are neurodivergent, meaning that “the brain functions, learns and processes information differently.”
Thunberg claims she became an activist because of – not in spite of – her Asperger syndrome: “It’s a superpower”. environment:tales enables neurodivergent children to create artwork exploring the environment and our impact on it. Using Thunberg’s book as a catalyst for their work, participants take part in drama, music, visual art, sculpture, ceramics, painting or dance workshops to learn about our planet and, in turn, boost their social skills, self-esteem and overall wellbeing.
A forest landscape created using paint and paper
“Save The Trees” poster
Collage of multi-coloured leaves
Hand painted underwater-themed wall hangings
Animal inspired creature created from clay and feathers
According to experts, levels of eco-anxiety – the chronic fear of environmental doom – are growing, particularly among children and young people. A 2020 survey found that 57% of child psychiatrists were seeing children and young people who were distressed about the climate crisis.
Experts suggested that the best way of increasing optimism in eco-anxious people was to provide reliable information on climate mitigation and adaptation, and to encourage them to connect with nature, make greener choices and to connect with like-minded communities.
Due to society catering primarily to the neurotypical, neurodivergent children and young people can struggle when it comes to accessing such information about the climate. For example, a 2021 study found that despite caring about the environment just as much as neurotypical people, autistic people can face barriers to taking positive environmental action and need greater support in doing so.
environment:tales helps to break these barriers and make information about the climate more accessible to neurodivergent young people. It allows them to understand how climate issues affect us, as well as how they can positively contribute to our planet, whilst connecting with others.
We are committed to our environmental responsibility and believe that the creative arts are an effective tool for encouraging climate action. You can learn more about our environmental commitment here.