Oak Bay students hope to inspire their roughly 250 peers who will descend on the high school for the annual Youth Climate Action Summit.
“It’s a lot for our club to run. It’s a big honour,” said Anna Campbell, co-leader of the Environment Club at Oak Bay High that is organizing the event with the Oak Bay Interact Club through YesBC
YesBC is a youth leadership program established as a non-profit society in 2008 that aims to give young people meaningful, direct involvement in sustainability initiatives.
“We provide opportunities for youth to talk about the issues they care about and have their voices heard by community leaders. Youth are involved in the planning and execution of the event, so it belongs to them,” said founder Judy Fainstein. “Our organization is run by volunteers and youth attend our programs for free.”
Youth for Environmental Stewardship (YES) B.C. brings its fifth annual summit and music festival to Oak Bay High on April 23.
“After this (attendees) are a lot more inspired to make a difference,” said Alexandra Ages, who will MC the event. “Because it’s youth-run, you feel like you’re the one making the impact as opposed to adults running things.”
“It makes us feel we can make a difference,” agreed Campbell.
The summit provides opportunities for youth to gain confidence, knowledge and tools to carry out their roles as environmental stewards. Environment club co-leader Olivia Cavanagh, who will MC alongside Ages, has attended and led sessions at previous events organized by YesBC around the region.
“I got to meet other kids with similar passions and interests,” she said, adding her peers offer a supportive learning environment.
Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, will give the opening address to the fifth annual Youth Climate Action Summit and Off the Grid Music Festival, followed by Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
Youth climate action workshops fill in the morning and afternoon. The Off the Grid Music Festival, where student musicians and headline band Carmanah perform on a sound stage powered by human (pedal) power and solar power, runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The day finishes with a panel discussion and dialogue with young sustainability leaders.
Students will connect with local and national politicians and like-minded environmental organizations, Campbell said. This year they even have a student team coming from the Netherlands to talk water.
“I’m personally really passionate about the environment and doing what I can to make change,” said Ruby Tang, president of the Oak Bay Interact club who recruited her team to help organize.
The goal is “to bring people who are passionate about the environment together. And to bring people who might be less aware and inspire them.”
Youth Climate Action Summit and Off the Grid music festival runs April 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Oak Bay High School.
The event is free to high school and middle school students. Visit yesbc.ca for registration information.