In Spring 2023 the Listowel Tidy Towns committee approached KDYS youth worker, Edel, looking for help with picking up litter around our town. Young people who attend the KDYS Listowel Youth Café weekly were asked if they would like to help and a group, The Green Beans, was formed.

The group of nine young people regularly helped throughout the spring and summer, litter picking, weeding, maintaining areas and giving ideas how to make the town and the Youth café more environmentally friendly.

Then in the Autumn the group were given the opportunity to start a Youth Climate Justice Project under the guidance of Youth Work Ireland. This project focused on increasing the engagement of young people in climate justice activities through creating an evidenced, manualised programme of developmental group work that would support young people to take a leadership role in climate justice activism.

Throughout the project young people were given the opportunity to take part in team building activities, to learn about climate change, climate action and climate justice.

We also had Norma Keane, from the Truth Be Told Vintage shop speak about sustainable fashion, changing habits when purchasing from fast fashion apps and upcycling old pieces of clothing. 

The main piece of the project however was an art mural the young people planned and completed, under the guidance of local artist Amy Sheehy. The aim of this mural was to increase awareness about recycling, the environment and climate change in our lives and the communities in which all participants live in.

Group members Kora and Katie will describe the process of making the mural.

“We then started on the mural and a woman called Amy came in to help us with it. We brainstormed ideas and worked as a team to see what we wanted it to look like. We started by all painting sections on the wall all different colours. We taped off parts of the wall to create a flow through the wall which we thought was cool and unique. Then with recycled cardboard we made stencils of flowers, animals, and different shapes. We then used recycled sponges to paint on and around the stencils. We finished the mural by picking out short effective slogans about the environment and again using stencils, painted them onto the wall. We wanted this wall to represent us, and our group aims. It brought us together and we love seeing people stopping to read it when they are coming in and out of the building.”

In early 2024 The Green Beans met again to plan and prepare their presentation about their involvement in the Youth Climate Justice Project. The launch was held in Youth Work Ireland Dublin, along with their peers from Youth Work Ireland Tipperary and Youth Work Ireland Galway.

The Climate Justice Group Work research conducted by Dr Morgan O’Brien and Majella Finnegan of SETU was launched along with officials from the DCEDIY. The work showed how group work empowers young people to address needs and aspirations around the things that matter to them in their lives – whether that’s big things in the wider world like climate change, or big things taking place in their homes and schools.