With Earth Day, Arbor Day, and other similar celebrations coming up, April is all about “going green.” With appropriate support and training, youth can be leaders in the movement to help our environment. In fact, many concerned young people in our community are already finding ways to actively preserve our planet.
“Honestly, we adults should be doing everything possible to listen to young people and to ensure, as best as we can, a livable future for them,” said Jim Poyser, executive director of Earth Charter Indiana. He added that “adults can be models for young people to live a less wasteful life.”
The Earth Charter, according to Poyser, was created to “find the intersections between poverty, racism, and democratic transparency (or lack thereof) – all within the context of the climate crisis.” Earth Charter Indiana focuses on climate issues by offering education in schools, working with young people on sustainability projects, hosting climate camps, and teaching leaders about climate issues.
Poyser said that much of Earth Charter Indiana’s programming for young people is designed to teach them about systems thinking, problem-based learning tactics, and leadership skills. From projects such as zero-waste cafeterias, no-idling programs, and youth-led Climate Recovery Resolution initiatives, Poyser has seen quite a bit of success.
“Thus far, three Indiana cities have passed Climate Recovery Resolutions, led by young people: Carmel, Lawrence, and Indianapolis,” said Poyser. “This project is in various stages in a handful of other Indiana cities. The outcome we hope for is an engaged, intergenerational, grassroots population working through municipal government channels to, together, bring climate change out of the closet and into the scary light. We can address our twin crises of environment and civics, simultaneously.”
Youth should care about the environment around them for a number of reasons, according to The Nature Conservancy’s Melissa Moran, director of community programs, and Emily Davidson, AmeriCorps member for education and outreach.
“Our natural world not only provides the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the soils in which we grow our food,” said Moran and Davidson. “It also provides a place for the mind and spirit to rest and habitats for countless other species of plants, animals, fungi, and more with whom we share space. Being disconnected from our natural world means that we are not directly observing the effects that humans have on the environment that sustains us. By spending time in parks or on nature adventures, learning about environmental topics, and participating in ‘going green’ projects, youth can grow in their knowledge about the natural world, learn how life depends on it, and be inspired to care for nature. Spending time in nature has also been scientifically proven to be better for kids’ health, their ability to pay attention in school, and their overall well-being.”
Read more on Indy With Kids