At Family Nature Day, a place for parents and caregivers to share concerns about climate

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 06-12-2024 10:43 AM

Worrying about the effects of climate change on your own life is bad enough, but worrying about the future effects on little kids is worse.

“This is the experience I have had as a mother to a 3-year-old,” said Maria Finnegan. “It was no longer about me, it was about my son and the world he’ll be experiencing. It weighed on me a lot. … It’s a double whammy.”

Finnegan is director of a group called Climate and Health Initiative for Caregivers and Kids. the group has held two “climate cafe” sessions at the Montshire Museum in Vermont at which parents, grandparents and anybody who cares for children could discuss their concerns about the growing climate emergency and learn about possible responses.

Those went so well that the group will co-host another one as part of a free Family Nature Day at  at Sunset Hill Educational Institute in South Sutton on Saturday, June 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. The event will feature nature-based programming for kids, live children's music and planting activities – things for children to do while the caregivers attend the cafe.

The session is designed to let people express concern and ask questions without encountering opposition from people who pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

“People don’t know where they can discuss these things without the fear of pushback or somebody being angry with them,” Finnegan said. 

Finnegan said the session is planned as “facilitated conversation.”

“Parents can listen to and respond to one another; it’s not just us talking to them. They can reflect and share similar concerns,” she said. 

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There will also be time, she said, for brainstorming and “discussing the steps we take to create the change we need to see.”

The sessions at Montshire Museum showed the value of sharing concerns and ideas, she said. “People came in saying I hope I can do this but it seems so hard. By the end of it, they had the confidence to say, I’m going to go back to my home town and fight for this.

“We can build each other up,” she said.

Also participating are New Hampshire Healthcare Workers for Climate Action and NAMI New Hampshire, part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  

Sunset Hill Educational Institute is at 222 Blaisdell Hill Road. The session is free but registration is requested at https:\\bit.ly/FamilyNatureDay .