Youth activism has always been a crucial and powerful tool for creating change. From college students staging sit-ins during the civil rights movement to Parkland students inspiring high school walkouts across the country, young people have always been key instigators to progressive change and action.
One of the most pressing crises in the current day and age is climate change, and young people across the country are standing up to take action on this issue as well, from Greta Thunberg of Sweden to high school students right here in Rhode Island. On September 7 and 8 at Rhode Island College, youth climate activists across the country are invited to the Sunrise Movement’s Northeast Regional Summit, one of three national events over the course of two months designed to train young people in the Sunrise’s environmental action ideas and strategies. The Summit begins at 8 a.m. on Sept. 7, and participants can RSVP here.
Then, on September 20, along with climate change strikes across the world, the Rhode Island Youth Climate Strike will take place at the state house in Providence. This strike is being organized by local activists and high school students Joelye Land, Sarah LeClair and China Duff of North Kingstown High School, North Providence High School and La Salle Academy, respectively. As high school leaders, these young women are responsible for finding captains at other schools and helping them recruit protestors. For this rally, they have arranged for a variety of songs to be sung and speeches to be spoken at the state house, following the two other strikes held earlier this year. “We want our voices to be heard,” Land says. “On this day all over the world, people, and especially students, will strike for the climate.”
Climate change action is particularly important in Rhode Island, one of the fastest warming and most at risk states for climate change in the US, and Land and her fellow activists are well aware of the pressing conditions. “We have an exceptional amount of coastline, and sea-level rise will hurt a huge amount of people and properties in the coming years. These miles of coastline also mean that Rhode Island is more susceptible to harm from extreme weather, and hurricanes and flooding are becoming increasingly common,” Land says. “Every second we delay action we make it worse.”
Like the young activists before them, these students are taking the lead in making sure that there is no more delay. “Many young people feel as though older generations have left the climate crisis for us to deal with,” Land says. “Activism is a way we can have our voices heard even before we can vote. If others had stepped forward and taken decisive action, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
The youth activists of Rhode Island and of the world are here to remind us that age is no excuse for inaction. Get involved and find more information at brightest.io.