Competition: Who are society’s changemakers?

There is one month to go for pupils in schools to enter an article or an image for this year’s Schools Competition of the Columban Missionary Society. The theme is: ‘Anyone can make a difference: 21st Century Changemakers’ and the entry deadline is 11th February 2022.

Young people 13-18 years are asked to consider: Who in the world today is doing something about inequality, injustice, exclusion and environmental degradation? What can they teach us? How can we draw on our own faith and personal experience to be changemakers?

The theme is based on a quote from young climate campaigner Greta Thunberg who has said, “no one is too small to make a difference”. She and many others internationally stand out for their mission to create a more just and sustainable world. Pope Francis, in his World Peace Day message in January, said: “All can work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships in the family, then within society and with the environment, and all the way up to relationships between peoples and nations.”

“We are now well used to hearing slogans such as “Hear the Cry of the Poor” and “Hear the Cry of the Earth” in worldwide campaigns to address the interconnected problems of poverty, environmental degradation and climate change gains force. Now it is time for another slogan  – “Hear the Cry of the Young!” says Regional Director for Britain, Fr. John Boles.

“It is the new generation that is going to feel the consequences of these crises if they are not readily addressed. It is this generation that now has to lead the charge for change. After working for 27 years in Peru I’ve seen the devastating results of human misery and environmental collapse. Coming home and visiting schools I’ve been amazed at how our youngsters are aware of this and beginning to make a stand.”

He adds, “Initiatives such as this competition is a way of giving them there head. I fully support it. The Columban Fathers fully support it. I urge staff and parents everywhere to support it as well.”

Footballer Marcus Rashford has been called inspirational and a driver of social change for being a campaigner against racism, homelessness and child hunger in the UK. In April 2021, he received an award from the National Education Union for his work in campaigning for free school meals.

In November 2021, thousands of young people marched through Glasgow on a Day of Action at the United Nations climate summit COP26, to call for climate justice. Changemakers can be ordinary people who contribute to the common good, trying to make the world a more caring and healthy environment for communities everywhere.

Full details of the competition and information about how to enter can be found at: www.columbancompetition.com

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Have a read of last year's competition winning articles.

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