Powell River’s youth climate forum is gearing up to get young people involved in addressing climate change.
Macy How, one of the organizers of the youth forum, said the first meeting, which took place on Thursday, August 15, was an organizational meeting for young people committed to climate action.
“We want to show that we want to educate and have a place for people to voice their opinions and talk about our future,” said How.
She said it is an opportunity for like-minded students to come up with some ideas that can shape the way people are dealing with environmental causes, especially in this community. The group is hoping to attract 12 to 25 year olds to the youth forum.
“In all honesty, we feel restricted because we can’t really act in the school,” said How, who is about to start grade 12 at Brooks Secondary School. “It doesn’t work very well. We wanted a place where we could actually work and do things and act properly without messing up our school careers.”
How said that regarding some of the initiatives at Brooks, such as demonstrations, there has been a backlash, and there is an imperative not to put students at risk.
While the first youth forum meeting was introductory in scope, How said the hope is that in future meetings, the group can gather the opinions of participants and shape what it is going to do. She said there is a cadre of young people who are dedicated to climate action, with a large friend group of people who are interested and determined to make a change.
“A lot of them are working hard to start up the youth forum,” she added.
The group has been taking inspiration from other youth forums.
“Our homework right now is to look up videos and get ideas from that,” said How. “We are getting inspiration and we’ll see what happens among ourselves.”
How said the group is inspired by the activities of Swedish youth environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, who is developing a worldwide following for her actions on climate change.
“We watch a lot of her videos and Instagram posts,” said How. “Everyone is very inspired and decided to do the same in our community.”
How said similar to Thunberg, the youth forum is hoping to be influencers in the community and provide some basis for the whole community to pay attention and make some systemic changes that need to be made.
“We definitely think it’s possible to reach out and make a difference, at least in Powell River,” said How. “There’s opportunity for change in this community and there are things that everyday people can do to make a real and substantial difference. Among the youth in Powell River, it’s very important that we start learning at a young age how to take care of our planet.”
The youth forum is working with Climate Action Powell River. How said the older group is mentoring the young people.
“They are always supporting us,” said How. “It will be easier because our group is not in school. They can be a more prominent part.”
How said she is excited that the youth forum is coming together.
“We are very thankful to Climate Action Powell River for approaching us and planting that seed,” she added.
Madeline Smith, another of the youth forum organizers, said the main idea of the forum is to create a space where young people can come and voice their experiences, opinions, thoughts, feelings and ideas about climate change.
“We see it so much throughout our lives,” said Smith, who is also entering grade 12 at Brooks. “We see it in the news, we have to deal with it from our parents and it’s everywhere on social media. We’re told we’re the ones who are going to have to deal with it. That’s a lot, so we want to create a space where we can all talk about it.
“We also want to create a space where we can all share ideas without feeling like we are going to be criticized. There are so many kids I know who have really good ideas for what we could do in Powell River, at home, or Brooks Secondary School, to help with the ginormous issue that is climate change.”
Smith said she hopes the forum will create a platform from where more action can grow.
For more information on the youth forum, email firstname.lastname@example.org.