“We did that… what can we do now?”
Did you ever think a child could change a law? Three young girls in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA, did exactly that. Each just nine years old at the time, testified at their town hall to change an outdated law to that forbade solar panels on public buildings. The girls were able to garner unanimous support for their initiative. They were inspired into action by the examples of other children from around the world fighting for the planet they will inherit from us. Once they realized the power they had to make change, they began immediately on saving a small woodland from development.
A new film series, Young Voices for the Planet, follows them and other youth around the U.S. standing up for the planet.
Young Voices for the Planet showcases children standing up for their futures with power and passion. Filmmaker Lynne Cherry helps kids tell their own stories, but they don’t need her help to do the work. Students at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, California, USA researched the amount of landfill being generated from school lunches. They were able to implement a recycling and composting program that then provided rich soil for a student-grown orchard. They were able to educate their fellow students about how to reduce carbon footprints and live more sustainably. Watch their story here.
Our kids can even help climate scientists! Take Anya, a Siberian girl who has been watching the world melt away. At age 13, Anya joined Artic scientist Max Holmes, collecting water samples from the River Lena – one of six significant rivers in the Arctic. Her samples added valuable data points to Holmes’ research on climate change and especially its impact on the Artic. Anya even got her school mates involved. Watch Anya’s story here.
Lynne Cherry says her mission is to “limit the magnitude of climate change and its impacts by empowering children and youth, through uplifting and inspiring success stories, to take an essential role in informing their communities — and society at large, challenging decision-makers, and catalyzing change. We document youth speaking out, creating solutions and leading the change. These youth solutions to the climate crisis include stories of California kids banning plastic bags, Florida students saving their school $53,000 in energy costs, an 11-year-old German boy planting millions of trees and other young people changing laws, changing minds and changing society as they reduce the carbon footprint of their homes, schools and communities.”
The film series forms part of a curriculum teachers can use in schools to help show youth what their own potential is, when it comes to solving big problems. These are documentaries of real kids solving real problems, with a program that takes students through an action plan to review the Young Voices for the Planet films and assess what issues they think they could make an impact on; finally helping them come up with their own action plans. When children see their peers making a difference, they are motivated to make their own change. As 9 year old Lily, after winning the solar panel issue in Lexington, says, “We did that… what can we do now?”
Take Action Challenge
- Teachers: go here to learn how you can use the Young Voices for the Planet films and curriculum for your classroom.
- Parents and caregivers: find out how to host a screening or get involved in a way that makes sense for you here.
- Kids: want to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint or submit your own idea to save our planet? Go here!
- Follow Young Voices for the Planet on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to join the journey.
Lynne Cherry is the author/illustrator of 30 best-selling children’s books such as The Great Kapok Tree and A River Ran Wild that have been incorporated into the teaching guides of Harcourt Brace, Scholastic and other major textbook publishers. She is the producer of the Young Voices for the Planet films and the Director of the non-profit Young Voices for the Planet. Lynne Cherry a resident of Frederick County, Md. (See Lynne Cherry’s book chapters, blogs and other articles.)