This is why your children need to know about Jude Walker: He thought of, planned, trained for, and completed a 320km walk to rally support for Carbon Tax in the UK. The journey lasted 21 days. No matter the pace, this distance is no stroll in the park. “Every day, there came a point where I just wanted to give up,” remembers Jude.
The world has come a long way from the emergence of charity sporting events. Nowadays, we see more and more endurance events to raise awareness for all kinds of issues. Endurance events showcase the strength of the human spirit and how far we can push our physical, emotional, and mental comfort zone when we passionately believe in something. It was through embarking on his journey that Jude realised the power of what he was really doing.
So who is Jude Walker?
“I first really grasped the impact of climate change about two years ago, when I read a book called Dire Predictions, which shows the findings of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and, in addition to making the consequences clear, it named reforestation and carbon taxation as the main solutions. It made me read more on climate change, and the more I read, the more I wanted to make a difference…” says Jude.
Upon discovering that none of his friends, parents, or teachers knew much about carbon taxation, he decided to do something about it. He wanted to do something that would raise awareness and influence change, ideally, in the form of carbon taxation! He needed a campaign sensational enough to capture people’s attention, all the while achievable for an 11-year-old boy. And so, he decided to walk from his home in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, all the way to the UK Prime Minister’s office at 10 Downing Street, London.
“When Jude first suggested the walk, we didn't think we could really do it logistically and didn’t really want to spend the whole family summer holiday doing it! But he’s totally schooled me on that level, as I knew nothing about carbon tax. We put up obstacles to doing it, and he countered every single one of them.” recalls Sarah, Jude’s mum.
And so, amidst the Covid crisis, 11-year old Jude Walker planned his trek using Google Maps and completed practice walks to train up for the big event. Jude set off on July 25th and, through rain and sunshine, arrived at the Prime Minister’s office on August 14th. Jude’s efforts resulted in a jump from 47,000 to 108,000 signatures, enough for the matter of Carbon Tax to be seriously debated in parliament.
So what does this mean?
It’s possible that Jude is an exceptionally bright and determined child, but what’s completely ordinary about him is his access to information and the support from his parents. The reality is that kids today have access to a near-infinite world of information (one that is fraught with as many facts as fiction) and they need help to navigate it. Jude’s story began with reading a book that sparked his curiosity… which led to more reading, more learning, and more passion for climate change. But how does that growing fire become meaningful action?
Empowered by knowledge, it was with the help of his parents that he was able to take meaningful action. He could have planned a theoretically perfect campaign that would convince even the word climate villains to change their ways… theoretically. And isn’t that such a common behaviour to see in kids around 11 years old? But this is where his parents transformed their child’s fantastical idea into a realistic and achievable goal. By challenging his plans, playing the devil’s advocate, and putting obstacles in his way, they helped Jude to temper his ideas with realistic goals and expectations. “I feel immensely amazed that I managed to do the walk, and help get the signatures needed, and I want to tell others that if you want something changed you can make a difference, especially if you set a date or timescale for your action. It is worth at least trying,” says Jude.
This week, we leave you off with our favourite version of this cliché: