UWCSEA Climate strike: Message from Grade 8 student organisers
Be informed, engaged, and passionate; all three are needed and all important if you want to make a difference. Being informed means getting the facts of the issue. Essentially the who, what, why, where, and when of an issue in the world. Being engaged is about taking action; showing support, writing letters, raising awareness, writing letters. Being passionate about the issue comes easily if you combine being informed with being engaged. We are definitely informed, engaged and passionate about the future of our planet.
So how did we decide to have a climate strike?
It took a fair bit of organising for safety reasons and impact reasons. We needed to make sure there was a space to be visible but we also needed to make sure that our Principal and Heads of Grade knew where we were - in case of an emergency. To begin with, we wrote a letter to adults but then decided to share it with our peers. This led to a lot of interest in what we were doing so we went forward and announced we were planning an in-school strike. To make sure everyone who wished to participate was accounted for we posted a sign-up spreadsheet. This meant we could know how many we we expecting. At first our classmates were skeptical because they were not sure if they would get in trouble. To be honest we were uncertain as well, but after talking to teachers about rules and guidelines, we managed to make two videos and a written explanation to set out clear expectations for the strike. The skepticism was quickly replaced by enthusiasm. This meant that in just two days our numbers grew from 30 to 160 students. This was amazing but we had to make sure that we were ready for the Friday morning. On Friday morning, at half-past eight, the students left their classrooms. For two hours, students protested the effects of climate change. It was a transformative period of time; shy and quiet kids became outspoken and everybody became an activist. The energy from the crowd was palpable; everybody channeled their enthusiasm to raise their voice for the climate crisis. Many people made speeches and pledges, promising to reduce their impact on the climate through various changes to lifestyle because they understood that the change has to start with them. Overall, our climate strike motivated and enthused our peers to be more conscious of their carbon footprint and their impact on the world around them.
Being climate activists we try our best to reduce the waste we produce to help set an example for others. For the past month we attempted to abstain from using tetra packs for drinks as well as reducing our beef consumption. We saved money, emissions and waste. This generated another idea; why don’t we make this challenge on a larger scale? After just one week it was amazing to see how many people tried to do something. Whatever you choose, try to stick to the challenge because it really makes a difference. It could be no straws, no tetra-paks, no food waste, no single-use plastic. We challenged Ms Bray to take public transportation to school once a week. We know it will take a little bit longer to get to school, but reducing carbon emissions in this way is one action that makes a difference. So we encourage everyone to challenge themselves to do something you believe can make a real change, even if just for a week, because soon a week turns into a month, and soon after a month turns into a year, and before you know it you may have made such a routine of doing your challenge that it may just become your norm. If you are looking for ideas - just ask us!