An estimated 4 million young people turned out – and walked out – internationally last Friday to insist on action to prevent further ravages of climate change.
Eight national youth-led groups organized the events, including Earth Uprising, International Youth Council, and Youth Climate Strike reaching 150 countries worldwide.
College and high school students from more than 3,600 locations across the world left school and other activities to insist that the powers that reside in the communities most affected by climate change work to protect biodiversity and indigenous lands and pass the Green New Deal.
Claremont High School junior Eila Planinc was one of those students involved in hosting a local strike outside of Claremont City Hall.
“As I grow up and things are happening outside of my bubble, I find it obscene that people aren’t freaking out,” Planinc said.
Outside of Claremont City Hall last week, Planinc, fellow classmates and community members provided a platform for open discussion to share their climate change concerns and participate in small activities.
“It’s kind of hard to stay optimistic sometimes when so many people deny what we know to be the truth,” Claremont High student Grace Corcoran said as she addressed the crowd. “Seeing all of you, all the strikes going on around the world, around the country, I can feel hopeful in the world again. There’s a lot wrong, but you guys are making it right.”
“I came out because I’m friends with Eila and passionate about environmental change,” said Claremont High senior Ani Singh said. “It’s gratifying and empowering.”
Chalk art on the sidewalks illustrated a call to action and hope for a better future.
“Denial is not a policy,” was written on one section of sidewalk.
Others chalk writing included: “Don’t listen to us, listen to the science,” “There is no planet B” and “Sea levels are rising and so are we.”
“In school we barely talk about (climate change),” said Katie O’Leary Claremont High senior. “
It would be great if there were changes in education because these topics aren’t implemented in the classroom. It was never spoken about when we were younger.”
Planinc quoted the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg: “Here, it feels like it is being discussed as something you believe in or do not believe in. And where I come from, it’s more like, it’s a fact.”
“(Climate change) should be treated as a fact and it should be taught in schools,” Planinc said.
Singh said that there are extracurriculars and student-started clubs at Claremont High where they are able to participate in environmental causes.
“There’s the Pine Club, Environmental Club and after school program with a teen committee to teach kids about recycling and starting to change things,” Singh said.
As a generation known for voicing its opinions and demanding change from world leaders, these students want to do more.
The Claremont High students said they plan to continue to raise awareness to the ways people can make everyday changes in their lives.
Planinc and the others took action and reached out to the Claremont city government in the fight against climate change.
They received the greenlight to work with the city council and collaborate on what changes they would like to see made in the city.
“We’re still thinking about ideas,” Planinc said.
Andrew Alonzo contributed to this story.
Jaycie Thierry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.