Big Day, Happy Earth Day! Today on the show…
Jaysa Hunter-Mellers’ dynamic speeches at rallies and her testimony at City Hall helped shut down the coal-fired power plant that was causing her asthma. Jaysa has become a passionate advocate for environmental justice and for national school civic education so that kids—and adults, too—can learn how to participate in their own governance, take action, and speak to power like she did. At 14 years old, Jaysa continues to galvanize audiences with a courage and wisdom. She has been a Youth Leadership Panel Participant at OMEGA’s 2019 Drawdown Conference and co-led YVFP’s Civic Engagement and Democracy workshop at the Ashokan Center’s 2020 Youth Empowerment & Sustainability Summit (YESS!).
Jaysa won admission to the Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Multi-Magnet Campus where she attends the Information Technology and Software Engineering School. Its mission is to create a culture for passionate investigators to develop solutions for the global community that lead to fulfilling careers. Jaysa is active in her school’s Debate Team where she’s frequently won 1st place. In addition to her school Drama Club, Jaysa’s been lead singer and performer for several theatrical productions at the 80-year-old, Broadway-sized Klein Memorial Auditorium. Jaysa’s other pursuits include Vex Robotics Team, Gender and Sexuality Alliance Club, and Student Council. She’s participated in the Girls Leadership Summit at Fairfield University and the STEM Girls Who Code Summit at Bridgeport University. Jaysa is also a TIME Kid Hero for the Planet.
Lynne Cherry, Author, Illustrator, originator, producer and director of the Young Voices for the Planet films, is well-known for her popular children’s books especially her rain forest classic, The Great Kapok Tree and her environmental history A River Ran Wild. Lynne Cherry is the founder of YVFP and currently a Visiting Scholar at the Benjamin Center @ SUNY New Paltz. Lynne is collaborating with a variety of interdisciplinary partners to bring the YVFP film series and curriculum into NY schools and working with the Mid-Hudson Teacher Center on a professional development series for educators interested in integrating civic engagement, climate education and environmental justice into their classrooms.
Young Voices for the Planet made a short doc film about Jaysa’s story, Words Have Power. The film educates people about climate change and its effects upon humans, social justice in relation to climate justice, and environmental racism. Jaysa and Lynne have spoken after film screenings including the Belmont World Film Festival and the Climate Action Film Festival. Here’s the Words Have Power lesson plan.
The mission of the Young Voices for the Planet film series is to 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. They 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.
Some vital YVFP partners:
- Zinn Education Project’s – Teach Climate Justice (“Words Have Power” is included among these resources)
- Our Children’s Trust (Juliana v US) Making the Case forScience-Based Climate Action
- CELF (Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation) where students and teachers view “Words Have Power” as part of their citizen-science program and use AirBeam air quality monitors to check air pollution in their own neighborhood, making the links between contaminants, environmental policy and environmental health. They then work in teams to synthesize their findings and recommendations, and share these with their community.
YVFP also supports these state and federal initiatives:
- New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky has introduced Senate Bill S6837that establishes a climate change education grant program. In 2016, thanks to a campaign by ACE and Global Kids, the NYC Council passed Resolution 0375-2014calling on the New York State Department of Education to include climate change lessons in the State’s K-12 curriculum.
- Spurred by youth climate strikers, California Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, introduced a House resolution – H.Res 574 – in September 2019, supporting the teaching of climate change in U.S. schools.
And last but not least, here are a few links showing the relationship between Air Pollution & Corona Virus
- Wired: Pandemic has led to huge drop in air pollution
- Time: Global Air Pollution down due to corona virus
- NYT: Air Pollution linked to higher corona deaths
- Fast Company reports similarly in this April 2020 article by Adele Peters: “The Most Polluted Parts of the US Are More At Risk for Coronavirus Deaths.”
- In an April 2020 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Study, “Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States“, researchers found:“…that an increase of only 1 g/m3 in PM2.5 [fine particulate matter] is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate, 95% confidence interval (CI) (5%, 25%). Results are statistically significant and robust to secondary and sensitivity analyses.”
Today’s show was engineered by Ida Hakkila of Radio Kingston, www.radiokingston.org.
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