Climate Kidz: A Climate Resiliency Initiative

Climate Kidz is a climate resiliency initiative, dedicated to increasing climate literacy through engaging resiliency projects and programs.

Photo of Ethan Bledsoe
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Please confirm you meet the following criteria

  • We have submitted the supplemental form linked in the description above
  • We are aged between 14 - 20 as of February 11, 2021
  • We live in the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa)
  • We are not employed by, or directly related (parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • We have been working on this project for at least three months
  • We consent to Ashoka and/or GM featuring our work on their website, social media, and in other materials regarding this Challenge using the information in our application
  • We confirm we have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

(Webpage) https://www.wlclimate.com/climatekidz ; (Instagram) https://www.instagram.com/wlclimatestrike/?hl=en; (Facebook) https://www.facebook.com/wlclimatestrike/

Date You Started Your Project

10/1/2020

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Climate resiliency is preparing for the impacts due to the climate crisis. The climate crisis has been a global cataclysm since the 1830s, and it still isn’t sufficiently covered in schools. When it is, the current climate situation is presented as hopeless, despite the existence of climate resiliency innovations rooted in STEM. Solving the issue of climate illiteracy is key to building resiliency, and it starts with the next generation.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We plan to engage kids with a variety of materials to increase their climate literacy, because climate literacy is climate resiliency. We will show the kids tangible actions they can take to prepare our city for the climate crisis. First, we will create small community libraries with literature exploring climate resiliency and STEM. We also have a website with a hub of information consisting of informative climate science, resiliency, and activism related blog posts, as well as step by step projects. These projects include creating a vertical garden, setting up a community compost system, and stocking a plant-based sharing garden. As we build momentum, we will add more to the libraries, such as a seed bank or building materials to actualize the projects. In addition to providing accessible resources for community members, committee members will also work with and mentor kids to help broaden their understanding of the climate crisis, start them on their journey as activists, and help them improve our community. We are already working with local entities, such as a school and library, to help increase awareness, engage more kids, and bring the resiliency projects to life.

3. Please tell us how you are using science, technology, engineering or math to address your environmental challenge.

The core objective of Climate Kidz is education: we want to increase the climate literacy of our community using science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts. Our climate resiliency libraries will include textbooks, how-to-guides, and blog posts that outline the fundamental STEM principles behind climate change, climate resiliency, and climate innovation. These libraries will provide users with the foundation to take the future into their own hands. Another information hub will be on our webpage: wlclimate.com/climatekidz. We will include climate resiliency projects and the STEM processes that underlie them. For example, we will teach local kids about photosynthesis and germination with our vertical gardens project, decomposition with our composting project, carbon footprints from foods and human health with our food pantry project, and biodiversity from native plant initiatives. The other pages on our webpage are focused solely on education, and the topics include the technology and engineering of resilient infrastructure, the basic science of sustainability and climate resiliency, and how climate resiliency and COVID-19 are interconnected.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

In 7th grade, I stumbled upon a video of youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. I wanted to learn more about the climate crisis, and Greta’s TED talks and her movement kickstarted my journey of researching the climate crisis. Rising sea levels, worsening natural disasters, and wildlife loss shocked me. I thought of my childhood in rural Indiana, where I hadn’t even heard of climate change. My new school did not take the necessary steps to educate students about climate change either. I wanted to do my part to help, but I didn’t know how yet. There was a complete lack of opportunities for youth to learn about climate action, let alone achieving climate resiliency innovations. After several more months of research, I gathered a group of peers to create Climate Kidz: a local organization dedicated to making our community more resilient through increasing climate literacy.

5. Video (Keep it simple, your phone on selfie-mode is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

Annabel Prokopy, a Climate Kidz co-leader, explains why she is stepping up to be a Changemaker.

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

To start, we met with West Lafayette Climate to form a team of 30 dedicated members of Climate Kidz and reviewed Indiana-specific climate resiliency literature. Next, we met with Earth Charter Indiana and the chair of the city Go Greener Commission to brainstorm and handpick projects that would be the best suited to our purpose. After this research and brainstorming, we reached out to individuals within West Lafayette Public Library and local school systems to implement the resiliency projects.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The Climate Kidz initiative focuses on increasing the climate literacy and resiliency of the community as well as teaching kids STEM concepts through hands-on projects. There are already groups that seek to teach about climate change or improve cities’ climate resiliency, but Climate Kidz is unique in that it accomplishes both goals simultaneously. As a group of young changemakers, we recognize the importance of youth and the next generation. That’s why we will serve the kids. These principles will make Climate Kidz stand out as a powerful, fun, and innovative initiative.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made.

Climate Kidz has not yet reached its full potential, but we already have a group of over 30 middle school, high school, and college students on our team and have reached hundreds via social media. Once Climate Kidz moves into the implementation stage, we’ll record statistics on the number of people that we reach through our mentoring and educational programs. In our libraries, we will have a virtual and written log to check in/out on. This will allow them to provide reviews on books they read, recommend new material, and allow us to track the success of our libraries. Another aspect of Climate Kidz is our educational programs. We will ask participants to consider filling out a short survey to give us feedback and testimonials. We will also have community conversations via Zoom every few months in order to understand the needs of the community and to adjust our approach from there.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Climate Kidz is still in a preliminary stage, so we have lots of ideas to take it to the next level. On our immediate agenda is to create the climate literacy libraries and host resiliency projects. From there, we can focus on building a mentoring program, which will further guide the kids on their journey to learn and take action. As we move forward, we will also create a larger curriculum to cover more STEM and sustainability topics. Another area that we will build on is expanding the Climate Kidz initiative to other cities and therefore making a bigger impact. After we attract more interest and build up steam, we will look into becoming a nonprofit organization in order to raise more funds to expand and increase our scope even further.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

In the past few years, I have led various environmental groups dedicated to advocating for legislative action against climate change. Through this endeavor, I have engaged hundreds of youth around the state and involved younger students at my school. A younger team member, Ashley, says “I stepped into the Climate Kidz initiative to involve students from the Junior High School in climate education. I have been able to change my lifestyle and lead members of my student council to follow.”

11. How would you partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

Climate Kidz partners with West Lafayette Climate and other like-minded students in Indiana to create a network of climate literacy and action. This network will reach many communities across the state, increasing Indiana’s climate literacy and resiliency. We are looking to continue these partnerships, as well as form new ones. The projects and curriculum created by Climate Kidz will inspire youth, the most important changemakers of all, to do their part in the fight for climate resiliency.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Initially, we will use the already large platform of our partner organization, WL Climate, to spread our movement to climate action groups across the state. We are also working with teachers in our community to bring climate resiliency education into the classroom, further growing our base. The positive effects of our projects will draw adults in as well. Additionally, we interviewed with our local news station, WLFI, and we plan to write pieces for an international publication, Animalia.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations between $100-$1k

14. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you? You’ll be able to select only one option.

  • Marketing Strategy

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or General Motors, who was it?

Spotify

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Spam
Photo of Benjamin Burlovic
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This sounds amazing! Good luck on your journey!

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