HERMITAGE Academy pupils joined thousands of young people on the streets of Glasgow to take a stand against climate change.

Mass demonstrations were held around the world as youngsters demanded urgent action on the environmental crisis.

S2 students Ishbel MacNeil, 12, and Kezia Conran, 13, formed part of the procession which walked from Kelvingrove Park to George Square, while first-years Iona Scott-Elliot and Sophie Bennie-Twist were also part of the Academy contingent.

Many more joined in, including S6 pupil Rosie Sumsion, who represents Helensburgh and Lomond at the Scottish Youth Parliament, while events also took place in all of Scotland’s cities.

Michael MacNeil, who accompanied his daughter Ishbel on the march, told the Advertiser it was encouraging to see children taking the initiative.

“I’m incredibly impressed,” he said, “not just by my daughter and her friends, but by all the young people who organised these protests right across the world.”

“Too often, young people are given a hard time but there were 15,000 of them marching in Glasgow for a better world. They are not apathetic, as we’re sometimes told; they are inspiring.”

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The global, youth-led movement initiated by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg has prompted a series of strikes by pupils keen to have their voices heard.

Ishbel and Kezia told the Advertiser they had no doubts about getting involved.

They said: “We felt the need to get involved, because who will if we don’t?

“Nobody is taking enough action. If no one does, before we know it this world could suffer irreversible damage.

“This could affect our choices in the future, such as a choice of whether or not to have children and leave them with the same choice. Who would want to live in a damaged world?

“It’s important to us because it’s our generation and our children who will be affected.

“The generations before us took no care and now it’s down to us, otherwise we won’t have a world left.”

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The girls said they hope to take part in future demonstrations and arrange a Helensburgh and Lomond event which would be more accessible to Academy pupils.

They added: “We hope it will raise awareness and that the government understand how important this is; we need to take action.

“Everyone can make a difference but having the government on your side makes a much bigger difference.

“We want the government to push forward deadlines, such as zero emission cars by 2040.

“It would mean people would respond quicker.

“People should be educated more about climate change. They want to help but don’t know how.”

MSYP Rosie, who thanked Argyll and Bute Council for allowing to pupils to take a day off school as an authorised absence, said it was amazing to see the turnout in Glasgow.

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She said: “This was the first strike I had attended and I reached a point where I felt that I couldn’t afford to not care, or hope someone else will deal with it.

“Of course, a big part of my decision was the fact that this was the strike I think will really make a difference, last week it travelled in whispers around the school and slowly more and more people began saying “I think I’ll go”.

"There was the feeling this would be ‘the big one’ and I really wanted to be part of that. It didn’t disappoint.”

“I was standing beside someone who described it as an incredible mix of despair and hope.

“It is time for our governments to act and turn their attention to the climate crisis.

“The question has always been who will we be in the history books?

“We must keep asking this, but what we must also consider is in what world will those books be read and who will we leave to read them?”

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A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: “Pupils who attended the climate change strike were given authorised absence, provided parents informed the school of their absence.

“We are educating our pupils to be citizens of the world and we are proud to see them participating in the global movement to tackle climate change.”

Council leader Aileen Morton added: “If the council agrees to set up a climate change environmental action group – and I certainly hope it will – the aim would be to see this group focus in on practical steps that could be taken to improve our work towards reducing carbon emissions.

“This could result in policy changes or specific projects to take forward this priority.

“I would also hope to see us work with partners, including the private sector, to build on progress already made.

“Young people across the world are making their voices heard, and I welcome the commitment shown by them.”

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