An elementary school class from Port Alberni joined a worldwide youth strike to demand climate action earlier this week.
A group of students marched down Roger Street and 10th Avenue on Monday, June 3, carrying signs and chanting, “Save the earth, for what it’s worth.” They garnered honks of support from passing cars as they added their voices to a global movement demanding government action on climate change.
The marchers were made up of students from Craig Brooks’ Grade 7 class at Wood Elementary School. Although Brooks accompanied the students during their walkout on Monday afternoon, the activity was entirely student led and organized.
“I tried to stay out of it as much as possible,” he said on Monday.
Grade 7 student Taniya Broesky, the main organizer of the march, said she learned about the climate walkouts happening all over the world through Instagram. She did some research, connected with some high school students in town and approached Brooks about organizing her own school walkout.
“It really got into my head,” she said. “Not a lot of people are aware that it’s actually going to hurt us.”
These school walkouts have been taking place across the globe, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who started holding demonstrations outside of the Swedish parliament in 2018. The goal of this international movement is to put pressure on adults, governments and corporations to reduce carbon emissions and invest in clean energy.
Brooks said that he holds weekly sessions with his class called “Face to Face Fridays.” He teaches students about empathy, sharing dialogue and ideas and respecting the opinions of others.
“It’s non-competitive and just about communicating,” he said. “They were the ones who brought up climate change. The question came up about why the government isn’t doing more. I told them it rests on you guys to make a difference. Make a start and go from there.”
Two students chose to remain behind at the school, but the rest of the class participated in the walkout during their lunch break.
“These guys were dead set on coming out,” said Brooks.
Broesky, meanwhile, said the overall goal of the walk was simply to get information out to the community.
“I hope more people will realize that we need to do something,” she said.