Be the Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA) launched the pilot project Youth for Climate Action (Y4CA) during the 2020-21 & 2021-22 school years. We empowered 138 youth (ages 12-18) across 10 teams to design and launch climate action projects to address climate change issues in their communities.
Y4CA participants gained key skills, experiences, and most importantly – hope and agency – related to climate action.
Some examples of successful Y4CA projects include:
- Revamping the school recycling system to become student-led and have greater longevity.
- Designing a month-long climate action pledge project to encourage their peers to make personal and household behaviour changes to reduce their carbon footprints.
- Running climate justice Professional Development workshop for teachers.
- Creating a more sustainable school cafeteria by advocating for plant-based options and creating clearer signage near waste, recycling and compost bins.
- Creating ecological rain gardens at two local churches.
85% of youth found Y4CA valuable and stated that they gained a strong motivation to take action on environmental and social issues. Here are some powerful participant testimonials:
- “It helps me feel less alone and overwhelmed by the climate crisis. I feel like I have a better idea of how to handle emotions that relate to eco-anxiety. I also have learned a lot about how to recruit people and have a meaningful conversation with them. Those are both very useful skills that I have been struggling with for a while.”
- “You teach really important things that have given me the confidence and skills to make a difference in the community - things that I haven't been able to get anywhere else. And all the people at Y4CA inspire me to continue my work, and are excellent mentors/advisors!”
- “We can have a greater impact than I might have thought at first. The projects created were things I didn’t think were possible.”
- “I actually know how to take action now and I can be a leader in any movement I want to organize… Y4CA has given me much more than I realized at first. I am a better person because of this program.”
Youth from Sir Winston Churchill and Magee Secondary School spelling out Y4CA at their year-end celebration picnic
Grade 8 students at Lord Byng Secondary painting rocks with “what the environment means to them”, while Y4CA students (standing) also from Lord Byng interactively teach them about climate justice.
Youth preparing the soil for the rain garden at Reality Church in Vancouver.
Be The Change Earth Alliance is grateful for our sponsors, the City of Vancouver, Trottier Foundation, Vancity, Environment Climate Change Canada, TD, S.M. Blair, GMR, BC Gaming, Pacific Salmon Foundation, BC Hydro, Zacks Family Charitable Foundation, who have generously supported this initiative.