14 September 2023

TV presenter Ade Adepitan on teaching kids about climate change: ‘Our planet is the greatest bit of tech we’ve got’

14 September 2023

TV presenter Ade Adepitan loves teaching his young son about how precious the environment is, because ‘our planet is the greatest bit of tech we’ve got’.

The Paralympic medallist is helping his two-and-a-half-year-old son Bolla gently explore nature, hoping to instil in him a love for the environment.

“He’s absolutely fascinated by all the creatures and all the plants, and it gives me an opportunity to talk to him about how they work, how they’re interconnected, and why they’re so important for us as humans. I can tell him this in such a simple way,” says Adepitan, 50.

“He’s so inquisitive – children are like sponges. He’s constantly talking about the bees, butterflies and insects, and I really enjoy helping him learn about our environment, and seeing his excitement and sense of wonderment.”


The former wheelchair basketball player, who fronted BBC series Climate Change: Ade On The Frontline in 2021, has teamed up with Zurich to create a book aimed at helping all young children understand an important part of the climate change problem – marine ecosystems.

“I think it’s really important that this new generation don’t make the same mistakes we did,” says Adepitan, who has also hosted travel documentaries and sports programmes during his broadcasting career.

“It’s first and foremost getting our kids to understand the beauty and the wonderment of this planet. And when you understand that, then you want to cherish it, you want to take care of it.

“And then, for you, it’s far more important to make sure the air is clean, and that we’re not constantly just taking and extracting from our planet. If you understand how something works, and how important it is to you, then you’re more likely to look after it.

“I see our planet as the greatest bit of tech we’ve got – we all get excited about the latest phone or gadget that we have, but none of them can do what our planet can do, none of them can sustain life.”

A team effort, the book was created by Adepitan and written by children’s author and former head teacher Neil Griffiths, with illustrations by Erin Mackay. The story follows Seanna the Seahorse and her friends, focusing primarily on seagrass and the carbon it sucks from the atmosphere, blue carbon.

More carbon is stored in coastal and marine marshes and seagrass meadows than in the world’s rainforests, and some species of seagrass can take carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. However, as much as 92% of seagrass meadows – also a vital habitat for endangered wildlife – have disappeared around Britain’s coastlines over the last century due to dredging and pollution, says Zurich.

“A lot of us know the importance of trees for our environment, and seagrass does the same thing, but for our oceans and seas,” explains Adepitan, who lost the use of his legs when he had polio as a young child.

“These seagrasses are natural mechanisms to suck up the carbon from the atmosphere, but most people don’t really know about it – seven out of 10 parents of primary school-aged children have never heard of the term ‘blue carbon’ and 55% don’t know what seagrass is.”

So, does Adepitan think the kids he’s hoping to reach through the book can help teach parents about climate change?

“Hell yeah,” he says with a laugh. “I think kids can be this really beautiful vehicle to help adults change their ways.

“It’s such an important thing that we learn from the younger generation – they have this curiosity and sense of wonderment that we tend to lose, or a lot of adults lose over the years as we become more and more cynical.

“But there’s nothing more powerful than having a young child, especially your child or a child that’s connected to you, telling you about how something is impacting them. That’s always a real wake-up call for us adults.

“But as Greta Thunberg said, it shouldn’t be left to the younger generation to do this. When it gets to that stage, when the younger generation are having to teach us, you know that we’re in a proper emergency stage.”

The Secret Garden Under The Sea, for children aged 4-7, is available free in both print and e-book format from Zurich.co.uk.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox