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Youth work on global issues

Student travels to England to tackle environmental concerns

by Kyle Wells Alyssa Stapleton, a university student originally from Powell River, recently travelled to England as the only Canadian participant among 60 people taking part in the international Global Youth Summit.

The summit brought youth from around the world together in High Wycombe, England for seven days to debate, discuss and workshop some of the most important issues facing the world today. The youth worked in groups related specifically to their particular interests and strengths. Stapleton took part in the group devoted to environmental issues.

Environmentalism has long been a passion of Stapleton’s. As a student at Brooks Secondary School she was a member of the Students for Environmental Action (SEA) group, helped start the bike to school program and managed to successfully campaign for bottled water to be taken out of school vending machines. Stapleton also travelled to her university in New Brunswick mostly by bicycle to see the country and promote transportation alternatives.

In order to take part in the summit Stapleton had to create a video and written application in which she answered a number of questions. She then took part in Skype interviews with the organizers. From that she was selected as the only Canadian participant.

Working with people from all over the world helped Stapleton challenge her assumptions about other cultures or areas of the world. She said meeting people from the Middle East and Africa and other areas of the world who share similar concerns and are positive, forward-thinking individuals like herself taught her many things.

“We were given lots of different tools and lots of different approaches to creating change in whatever area we were passionate about creating change in,” said Stapleton. “It was really valuable for making connections with different people from around the world.”

In the groups the youth developed projects to be continued after the summit.

Stapleton’s group decided to develop an online network for all of the various environmental initiatives that each of the participants are taking part in back in their home countries. They have dubbed it the E-Connect Project and see it as a platform for sharing ideas, connecting initiatives and generally staying in touch.

As a student at Mount Allison University Stapleton is working on a self-developed degree focused on outdoor environmental education. She is also involved in the ecoaction group, which is a group devoted to environmental initiatives.

Stapleton said her passion for the environment comes from a strong start in the outdoors while growing up in Powell River. Part of what keeps her motivated is knowing that many of the outdoor places she grew up with as a child are no longer there or are in the process of being logged.

“It’s just frustrating to look at how the environment is judged for what it can do for us instead of what we can do for it,” said Stapleton, adding her desire that people notice “how it nurtures us, how we can work to sustain it and just be happy with appreciating it and being in tune with it, instead of just destroying it because we want to make money.”