Youth-led climate strikes surge across country

Rachel Katz, News Editor

A sign made by senior Ainsley Charlesworth is displayed at the Chicago Youth Climate Strike. The strike took place on Sept. 20 as part of the youth-led Global Climate Strike movement.

A group of young protesters gathered in a large circle and chanted up at the buildings on Federal Plaza, while senior Ainsley Charlesworth observed the group. Charlesworth felt as though the circle of protesters was trying to get the attention of the adults working in the buildings.

The cause of the chants: a call-to-action regarding climate change.

“Everyone is coming together to fight for something,” said Charlesworth. “It’s really empowering. It makes you feel … like you’re actually     doing something.”

Charlesworth is one of the many people who took to the streets of downtown Chicago on Sept. 20 as part of the youth-led Global Climate Strike movement. Isabella Johnson, leader of the Illinois Youth Climate Strike team, said in an email interview that the strike marched from Grant Park to Federal Plaza and there were more than 5,000 attendees. Johnson said strikes have happened in almost every state and in over 100 countries, and that each strike is connected to the greater Global Climate Strike movement. Through this movement, youth activists work together to raise awareness towards today’s “climate crisis.”

“I was so in awe of the power surrounding me [at the strike],” said Johnson. “So many people were rising up to pressure our leaders into taking immediate action to combat the climate crisis.”

Senior Emme Moon, board member of Environmental Awareness Club, said she wishes she could have attended the strike, but was unable to because of school. Moon said she thinks other Glenbrook North students might not have attended the strike because it interfered with classes.

According to Moon, there were some members of the club who promoted the strike through social media. Moon said she believes the club could have done more promotion regarding the strike to ensure all students were aware it was happening.

Junior Hannah Foster said she is conscious of the role climate change has been playing in rising social movements around the world and wishes she could have attended the strike.

“I think I just have a greater issue with the fact that I had to make a choice between my grades, my classes and school and the safety and well-being of the climate around me,” said Foster. “It’s just not fair that I have to think about how am I going to make up P.E. when there’s literally biodiversity loss, entire destructions of ecosystems, and that’s just not a fair comparison to make.”

Charlesworth, who prefers to use gender-neutral pronouns, said they have felt pushback from their parents regarding their attendance at the strike rather than at school, but will continue to strike for the climate.

“My mom always tells me You should be focusing on your studies, you shouldn’t be missing school to go to these marches,’” said Charlesworth. “She’s like, ‘You should go to school because that’s important,’ and I’m like, ‘Mom, I don’t have time to go through four years of college before it’s gonna be too late … this [change] actually needs to happen now.’”