In our final newsletter of the year, we wanted to start off by giving a heartfelt THANK YOU to you for being a supportive member and participant in our community! Our teachers, supporters, volunteers, members and donors are the reason we have had such a successful year. I want to offer gratitude for those who donated in our Giving Tuesday campaign – we raised over $15,000 to go towards educating and empowering 10,000 students on climate change over the next year!
Below, we highlight a story of one of our most impactful programs! Enjoy!
The antidote to climate-anxiety in youth is hope.
I’ve seen hope flower from the seeds of values rooted in what we love, rather than what we fear. I’ve seen it blossom, through giving young people meaningful opportunities to take action and step into courageous leadership with their community. And I’ve seen it mature and drop its seeds from one young leader to the next, regenerating the potential for hope to come alive in cycles of generations, forever.
I believe in the power of mentorship and youth empowerment to nourish active hope.
Over the last two school years, I had the joyous opportunity to mentor 12 teams of youth (ages 12-18) to design and launch climate action projects in their communities through our pilot of Youth for Climate Action (Y4CA). I supported them in their journey of engaging over 3,000 community members and reducing between 52 - 67 tonnes of CO2 through their unique projects! They also developed skills, experience, agency and motivation for taking climate action. To tell you the truth, I learned just as much as they did.
It doesn’t stop here.
After such a success, we knew we needed to continue offering youth mentorship and project-based support. Following the stress and loneliness of isolation during the pandemic, students told us they wanted more than just creating an impact on emissions. They missed community; they wanted more fun and they wanted to regenerate their well-being while at the same time having a positive social, environmental and climate impact.
So we created a new iteration, Youth For Climate Justice (Y4CJ). Compared with Y4CA, Y4CJ allows for more flexibility and emergence based on the students’ needs and wants. Instead of focusing on rigid indicators, including emissions and a long list of learning outcomes, we framed the program within the qualitative indicators we wanted students to experience, such as joy, authentic learning, agency, and connection to each other and themselves.
This year I have been working with three youth teams and one teacher to support youth in launching climate justice projects in their communities. We’ve focused on team building, facilitation and leadership during the first few months. As we move forward, the youth are beginning to design and execute exciting projects. At the same time, we are co-creating a fun, relational and joy-filled collaborative environment.
We’ve never worked with a class like this before.
I have the deep pleasure of working with Alain Raoul, one of our greatest champions and a sincere and dedicated educator at Lord Byng. Together, we are empowering students in his Career and Living grade 8 classes to learn about social and climate justice and important ways to take action. We’re experimenting with what a deep shift in education could look toward climate action.
The 3-week long class culminates in writing an advocacy letter to the Vancouver City Council, with complete agency over the messaging. Students get to have an authentic voice, while engaging in their local municipal climate policies. Here is one example:
“Dear Councillor Fry,
I hope this letter finds you in good bearings. We are writing from Lord Byng Secondary School, as two Grade 8 students in the Byng Arts Program. We admire the hard work and effort the City has put into cutting carbon and pollution by 12%.
However, we have a concern. We find that having to pay a bus fee every time is something that students and citizens alike cannot afford. At the same time, when people cannot afford public transportation, they tend to choose to drive gas-operated cars, which leads to more pollution in our beloved city of Vancouver.
Did you know that the Earth’s warming rate has increased by twice as much in the last fifty years and that Canada is warming by twice as fast as the world? This is unbelievable, yet can be decreased by huge amounts, if public transportation is free.
Although 12% is a start, it is not enough. If we want a green future for the generations to come, the government must take action immediately. Otherwise, why call this situation an ‘emergency’?
Please make public transportation free for buses by spending what it takes, as a clear option for everyone.
Thank you for reading our letter, and we look forward to hearing your reply very soon.”
Running Y4CJ this year has so far been an extremely rewarding and fun experience. I have been able to meet and provide support to youth in-person and I can feel the excitement and passion that the students bring to climate justice work bringing more aliveness to my life.
That’s all for now, I’ve got to get back out there with the students creating impact in their communities! (psst. And I get to have FUN while doing it)
With excitement and hope,