Children demand action on global warming at Upton Park protest


240 children demanded cleaner oceans, cleaner air and an end to global warming at a protest in Upton Park on October 21. - Credit: Jon King

More than 200 primary school children have demanded an end to global warming at a protest in Upton Park.

A total of 240 pupils from Elmhurst Primary marched down Green Street chanting "stop global warming" while waving colourful placards reading "save our oceans".


The children chant "save our ocean life" as they make their way along Upton Park Road. - Credit: Jon King

Haneefah, aged nine, said: "We have to take action immediately. Stop pollution. Stop climate change. Stop extinction. Save the earth or suffer our consequences."

Children read poems inspired by mother nature, gave impassioned speeches and sang Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World in English and the Ghanaian language twi at St Stephens Parade.


Pupils read poems and delivered speeches at St Stephens Parade. - Credit: Jon King

They then turned the heads of pedestrians and shopkeepers, continuing their march towards Queen's Market.

The young activists were joined by teachers, East Ham MP Stephen Timms, Cllr Genevieve Kitchen and Cllr Jane Lofthouse, while being escorted by police officers.


The protest formed part of a two-year project focused on the story of water. - Credit: Jon King

The protest formed part of a two-year art, literacy and geography project in which pupils learned about the importance of clean water.

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Addressing the pupils, Mr Timms said: "We need you to carry on doing what you're doing to make your voices heard. Keep up the good work."

He explained how the Thames has some of the highest recorded levels of microplastics than any river in the world and was declared biologically dead in 1957, but that thanks to legal changes and regulations, it is now home to more than 100 species of fish.

The youngsters shouted "yes" across Green Street in answer to headteacher, Sukwinder Samra, who asked: "Do we care about our environment? Do we want the waters to be clean? Can we make a difference?"


A group of children sing What a Wonderful World in English and twi. - Credit: Jon King

Cllr Kitchen said: "You should all be proud of yourselves. What you are saying and what you are doing will help us all in the future."


The children were joined by their teachers, headteacher, governors, East Ham MP Stephen Timms, Cllr Genevieve Kitchen and Cllr Jane Lofthouse. - Credit: Jon King

Artists Dave Taylor, Ursula Kelly and Andrew Mutter worked with pupils to create a mosaic mural, placards and jellyfish-like sculptures made of recyclable plastics brandished by the protesters.

Elmhurst joined six UK and seven Ghanaian primary schools for the project, backed by the British Council's connecting classrooms through global learning initiative. It was masterminded by teacher Rubina Rehman.


Pedestrians and shopkeepers' heads were turned as the children marched, chanting "stop global warming". - Credit: Jon King

The work by the Year 5s and 6s will be exhibited online and at Cody Dock in Canning Town.