At SVCE, we are constantly inspired by the young people in our community who are also fighting to leave their home a better place for future generations.
Aarthi, Keira and Anika, middle school students at Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, are members of the school’s Decarbonize Decolonize Club, an international student-led movement to incorporate indigenous voices and environmental policies into government. We spoke with them about their club’s initiatives and their experience sending members from their school to last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland. Anika and another Bullis student were the youngest attendees of the conference.
“It was amazing because we were able to connect and make relationships with so many people from around the world that were older than us,” says Anika. “I think we were all drawn together for one thing that we wanted to make a difference in, so it doesn’t matter the age or where everybody’s from.”
The students prepared for the conference by writing blogs and discussing their work via video conference with other students around the world. They collaboratively developed a white paper with recommendations for action which they presented at a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference, the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) and the Conference of Youth (COY) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Decarbonize Decolonize Club at Bullis is also working on a number of environmental initiatives at their school. With grant funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), they provided glass straws to Bullis students to reduce plastic waste. They surveyed students before and after distributing the reusable straws and found that plastic straw use “went down drastically” as a result of their work.
The club’s other initiatives include building a green wall on the side of their multipurpose room and creating a Walk or Wheel program to incentivize walking or biking to school. They even spoke with their local representative, Anna Eshoo, about implementing a carbon tax.
As the students emphasized in the white paper, education is essential to creating positive environmental change.
“I think they need to understand the consequences correctly, so I think the main problem here is education. We need to take care of educating people when they’re young,” says Aarthi.
These students have made an impact by not only changing their own actions, but by educating and inspiring others to work towards a more equitable and sustainable future.
Photo from UNclimatechange via flickr.