Published on May 10th, 2018 | by GrowWNYAdmin0
Alliance’s Fellows Lead in WNY Youth Climate Action Summit
By: Rebekah Williams
After almost two years of activities with the Western New York Environmental Alliance’s Youth Climate Justice Fellows, the Alliance’s youth fellows will take a leadership role in the NYS Master Teachers’ 2nd Annual WNY Youth Climate Action Summit coming up on June 2nd. The fellows who participated in last year’s event found it educational and fun, and they are looking forward to a leadership role this year.
In addition to participating in the Youth Climate Justice Campaign, the Alliance’s Youth Fellows serve in various volunteer and activist capacities within their schools and broader communities. Joining the campaign affords them additional leadership opportunities.
Some of the activities the Youth Fellows participated in this year have included hosting a panel discussion at the Humanities Institute’s Festival on the Environments, learning about just transition principles in a Movement Generation’s Justice & Ecology Retreat, participating in a Youth Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, and creating a climate justice workshop for a food systems conference in Baltimore, MD. With all of this training and teaching under their belts, the fellows are ready to engage with the cohort of youth at this year’s Summit and invite new youth to join the climate justice movement.
To prepare for the Summit, the youth fellows will take part in a planning retreat later this month. There they will spend time together in nature, build relationships, plan for their participation in the Summit, and attend a celebratory climate change event in the beautiful Finger Lakes Valley.
As a climate justice initiative, the Alliance’s fellowship lifts up voices of youth from “frontline communities”, and prioritizes participation from a diverse group across race, class, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation. The fellowship nomination process encouraged applicants who identify as youth of color; immigrants, refugees and new Americans; LGBTQ youth; and youth from families living in poverty. The campaign has been an incredibly important experience for many of these phenomenal young people as it provides them with opportunities they might not have had access to otherwise including travel, learning new concepts, and getting to retreat in nature.
Through the WNYEA’s Youth & Climate Justice initiative, the youth fellows have not only gotten to participate in educational opportunities around climate justice, but they’ve also had opportunities to develop their leadership skills through presentations at conferences, (on workshops and panels), and through developing relationships with local, national, and international climate change activists.