Today’s guest blogger, Samantha Wheeler is an award-winning talented author from Queensland. I’ve long admired Sam’s love of animals and their well-being, and it’s significant her post today sings of her commitment to their safety and also protecting the planet. In these days of our lives filled with the worry of a global pandemic, it’s vital to not forget the biggest battle the planet faces … global warming. In her gentle, thoughtful way, Sam’s words are the positive antidote we need right now.
… One Step at a Time …
Remember when you were young, and your mum or responsible adult asked you to clean your room? You looked at said room with a sigh in your heart, and a protest on your lips? Cleaning that tornado seemed an impossible task, far too much for one small human. But, with no-one else to help, you picked up your roller skates, rolled those red rubbery wheels around then slid them into the cupboard. You grabbed your soft toys in to a giant bear hug and dumped them into their designated basket. So far so good. There was a carpet under there after all. And so you continued until your room was pristine clean.
I don’t know about you, but I’m similarly overwhelmed by the ever-increasing evidence over the destruction of our planet. Deforestation, pollution and of course, global warming. With every story, I feel more and more helpless.
How can I, just one human, save our beautiful world? Surely there’s nothing big enough one person can do? Only banks, governments, and global organisations could ever tackle such huge issues. It’s like taking a step back in time, staring into my messy but beloved childhood bedroom, and not knowing where to start.
I am lucky enough to talk in many schools throughout each year, so I know it’s not just me feeling this way. Children are only one conversation away from climate change, and are just as worried, if not more so, than us. But unlike us, children ACT. They don’t expect to fix the whole climate crisis in one giant swoop, but they know that everything we do shapes our future.
Like me tidying my room, they choose one small thing and make a start. I’ve met students who’ve stopped their whole suburb using straws. And others who’ve raised $22,000 to help koalas. Some develop apps, plant trees, make ‘nude’ lunches the norm. And yes, these changes are small, but if we all did them… wow!
One of the most trying effects of all this talk of climate change is that we’re starting to become oblivious. We get so much negative news, we’ve learned to switch off. One way to stay motivated, and to encourage young people to do so too, is to look for success stories, where one little voice creates change.
One of my favourites is the lawyer in Mumbai, Afroz Shah who began cleaning his local beach for turtles and was repeatedly mocked and beaten for his efforts. But eventually, when friends and family jumped on board, the beach (which was waist deep in 9 million tonnes of rubbish) was cleaned, and the nesting turtles returned. What a fantastic achievement! Starting with just one man. (Ed: Check out the video about this amazing effort.)
Luckily for me, I’ve chosen a career that allows me to re-connect with nature. My stories are full of adventure with a healthy dose of the environment, born from an understanding that leading by example is one of the most powerful tools we have.
If the protagonist in our books are brave and stand up for the environment, then maybe our young readers might do the same. If animals can be saved by small but thoughtful actions in fiction, maybe in real life they can be too. Many of us have lost a sense of belonging when it comes to our planet, and to really make change, we must revisit this important value.
That’s where we authors can really have an impact. They say readers can lose themselves in stories, but perhaps they can find themselves too. By connecting children with heroes who make the well-being of our planet a priority, then hopefully we can encourage them to do the same. We must tackle climate change together. One small step at a time.
Samantha Wheeler’s first children’s novel, Smooch & Rose was inspired by land clearing in the Redlands region near Brisbane and its dire effects on the local koala colonies. This inspiring animal-advocate kept writing … Wombat Warriors, Mister Cassowary, Turtle Trackers and more. All have been shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, the Readings Book Prize, The Wilderness Society Environmental Award and the Royal Zoological Society, Whitley Commendation.
Sam’s most recent story, Everything I’ve Never Said, was inspired by her youngest daughter, who has Rett Syndrome and can’t talk. Samantha hopes her books will inspire everyone to speak up and make a difference.