Hundreds of schoolchildren were taught about the dangers of flooding and how they can help build up resilience for the future at a special event this week.
The University of Cumbria’s campus in Bowerham Road, Lancaster, hosted an event in partnership with the Lune Valley Flood Forum, welcoming around 400 pupils from 11 primary schools.
Statutory agencies, charities, and nature and wildlife bodies including the National Flood Forum, Environment Agency, Met Office, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Cumbria Wildlife Trust played major roles in the multi-agency event.
Six ‘learning zones’ were created for children to explore, including a ‘flood Hub’ where children discovered how flooding affects people’s lives, with an opportunity to talk to residents whose homes have been affected and flood emergency groups from the local area.
Environmental organisations were in the ‘systems zone’ where the young visitors discovered more about how river systems work.
A ‘reactive zone’ featured the work of the Met Office, emergency services and local authority civil contingency teams, and a ‘proactive zone’ educated the children on what can be done to reduce the risks of flooding and help be better prepared for the future.
A water rescue boat and fire engine were also in the grounds of the campus.
Event organiser Chris Barlow, senior lecturer at the university’s Institute of Education, said: “Over the last year I’ve been working with the Lune Valley Flood Forum advising on ways in which they can reach out to primary schools to make children aware of the impact of flooding, and how they can be more resilient in the face of such matters.
“As a geographer, it has been a huge of interest of mine to see how we can help our children learn about how flooding but how it impacts on not just us as communities but the world around us.”
“It has been a day that has really seen us engage with schools and pupils and so many different agencies.
“We’ve really got them thinking about how flooding is a significant event and their attitudes to it. It also has them thinking about how they can prepare themselves in the future. Schools will also talk to each other about this; it is great for them to discover what help and support is out there.”
Lancaster MP Cat Smith was among the figures supporting the event, visiting the university’s Bowerham Road campus recently to contribute to a film which was shown throughout the day and which will be uploaded to the Lune Valley Flood Forum website.
The ‘talking heads’ film project also aims to support primary school children’s understanding of flooding issues in the local area.
The information and resources brought together on the day will create a new teachers’ flood resource on the Lune Valley Flood Forum website.
Janet Taylor, chair of the Lune Valley Flood Forum, said: “We know that our region continues to rebuild following the devastation of a number of major flooding events the worst of those being in 2015 and 2017.
“Extreme weather events have been on the increase over the past 20 years due to climate change, therefore we’re pleased to see that so many people, schools, organisations and partners have taken up the invitation to be involved in such an important day that will help future generations.
“It really has been a fabulous day and I think the next steps will be to explore an education project for schools and putting the information from this event on to our website for others to access.”