Climate change is producing an emergent mental health crisis among youth. Yet British Columbia’s education system offers youth limited opportunities to learn how to take personal and collective action on climate change, a proven means of reducing ecological despair and paralysis.
Youth for Climate Action (Y4CA), a pilot project during the 2020-21 school year, aims to help tackle both climate change and youth ecological despair. Through Y4CA, Be the Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA) will empower teams of Vancouver youth (ages 14-18) to design and implement meaningful climate action projects in their communities. These youth-led projects will directly reduce local ecological footprints and engage local community members in climate action. The long-term goal of Y4CA is to empower youth to become resilient, purposeful changemakers with the knowledge, skills, experiences and attitudes to contribute to positive environmental and social change.
BTCEA will support these youth teams through:
- Workshops and trainings on topics ranging from how to structure a team and manage a project to systems-thinking and equity-considerations on climate change.
- Newly created guidebooks focused on skills for team collaboration, project planning and management, community engagement, climate solutions and self-development.
- Hands-on mentorship and support to guide youth teams through the process of team-building, and project research, planning, delivery and evaluation.
Y4CA is a participatory project. Youth consultations in Spring 2020 set the priorities for program design and helped BTCEA identify the key learning areas for workshops, trainings and guidebooks. Participating Y4CA youth teams have autonomy to choose and design their project to address the needs or problems they perceive in their community. By “leading from behind,” BTCEA aims to support the next generation of climate leaders.
Be The Change Earth Alliance is grateful for our sponsors, City of Vancouver, Trottier Foundation and Vancity, who have generously supported this initiative.