There were many take away points from the Comox Valley Youth Climate Action Conference that took place last month.

The conference was hosted by Comox Valley Schools at the Florence Filberg Centre on February 13th.

The focus was “Empowerment for Impact” and brought 300 students who spent a full day learning, collaborating and finding their voice on climate action initiatives.

Mary Lee with SD71 says word spread quickly to neighbouring school districts, attracting registrants from other regions including Nanaimo/Ladysmith, Parksville/Qualicum, Powell River, and Campbell River.

Serina Allison, District Environmental and Outdoor Learning teacher says the island-wide event gave students the perfect opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas.

“The conference was all about providing youth with an opportunity to connect with one another,
in small groups and large to share their passion for environmental advocacy and to generate
positive discussion and ideas,” explained Allison.

“All the activities were geared toward empowering and fostering collaboration to create positive environmental change and to educate youth around the issues we face here on our island.”

The one-day youth climate event had speakers with many different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Presenters highlighted current and critical environmental issues in the local and surrounding communities on Vancouver Island with the goal of identifying where some action planning could be implemented to address real problems.

One of those speakers was Courtenay city Councillor Will Cole-Hamilton.

In his presentation he pointed out that there is no one more responsible to give the green light to advocate for change than ourselves, and that by working together, small communities can make the greatest impact.

SD71 Spokesperson Mary Lee says Cole-Hamilton cited two leading examples of youth advocacy efforts within the school district already including Arden Elementary students proposing to Courtenay Mayor and Council the need for a safer commute along a busy corridor that would encourage more cyclists and walkers.

The second, which earned them a finalist position for the 2020 Chamber of Commerce Award, was the efforts of the Youth Environmental Action (YEA) to collaborate with municipal leaders in addressing community climate concerns together.

As the day drew to a close, Environmental and Outdoor Learning teacher Serina Allison led students through an activity to simulate the collaborative approach toward climate action.

They were asked to form two rows, facing each other, interlocking arms as a life-size ball representing planet Earth passed down the line to demonstrate how to work together in keeping the momentum.

She says it’s important to show the generation that it takes teamwork to make our planet a better place.

“We need to show the youth of today that the future is not resting on their shoulders alone, but
rather we are here working as one, as a community; That we are not starting at the beginning but are in an exciting time of change and transformation,” explained Allison.

“There will be hurdles and some resistance but by picking up where we fumble, we can continue moving forward.”

To see a more in-depth recap of the Comox Valley Youth Climate Action Conference, click here.