When I was young, I volunteered for various organizations and I participated in an academic extracurricular group known as the Future Problem Solvers of America, but that was the extent of my adolescent efforts at having a positive impact on the world. I don’t think I had ever heard of anyone young doing something world changing (sheltered child I was) and I certainly didn’t feel empowered to be the first. Today, kids blow my mind and give me enormous hope for the future. Consider just these five:
• Adora Svitak, a 12-year-old who is a published author and was the youngest speaker at the TED 2010 conference.
• Jordan Howard, 17, a senior at Environmental Charter High in LA, Green Ambassador Youth leader, and prolific speaker and blogger who inspires at her blog jordaninspires.com;
• Ally Maize, who three years ago, as a 15-year-old started the Green Youth Movement; and
• Erin Schrode, a freshman at Columbia University and founder of Teens Turning Green
Beyond their individual efforts and successes, they have now joined forces with a bevy of other talented youth to start “Green My Parents,” a youth-led movement to save $100 million for American families by teaching kids how their families can save $100 by going green. How will they do it?
One example is a simple household detoxification – i.e. reducing the use of conventional cleaning products and replacing them with safer, cheaper alternatives like baking soda and vinegar. And, parents had better oblige or they may find themselves receiving poor grades in the follow-up report card (you don’t want to get an ‘F’ from a child, now do you?)
Their campaign launches Earth Day with a youth-led webinar being broadcast on The National Wildlife Federation’s SchoolTube.com at 1 pm EST and the release of their downloadable Green Your Parents e-book.
And, speaking of safer cleaning, did you know that many of the cleaning products typically used in schools are toxic and contribute to poor indoor air quality, cancer, asthma, and other diseases? How can we expect our kids to behave brilliantly if they’re going to school in buildings that make them sick?
Support healthier learning environments by raising awareness about National Healthy Schools Day on Monday, April 26th. This year’s focus is on using certified green cleaning products which help reduce pollutants in indoor air. What can you do? Take this opportunity to start a local school group that will work together creating healthier environments for students and staff.
• If your school will not appoint a healthy schools group, start your own.
• As a group, pick the issues you want to work on. Your mission: every child and school employee should have an environmentally safe school.
• Ask others to join. Investigate together and share information.
• Write letters, keep copies, and track responses. See change happen.
• Celebrate. Say thank you!
Engage kids and you might get even more bang for your buck. Just like the report cards being used by the Green My Parents campaign to compel parents to act, kids can use similar tactics to compel school staff to make changes. Kids behaving brilliantly can inspire adults to behave better.
Have any examples of kids behaving brilliantly, greening their parents, or making healthier schools? Please share them in the comments to help inspire others!
Healthy Child Healthy World is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals. Learn more at HealthyChild.org