Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Meet the Young Climate Leaders Who Are Making a Difference
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Rustic Spirit Spotlights: Meet the Young Climate Leaders Who Are Making a Difference

The third cycle of the Climate Leaders Fellowship program has just come to a close after two months of incredible impact work by hundreds of students. Through this environmental leadership program, high school students were able to research the effects of climate change in their own communities and find ways to combat the problem locally.

Fellowship students worked hard to implement plans that directly benefited their communities. After identifying a local need that was brought on or intensified by climate change, such as how environmental problems affect people’s health or how extreme weather events may put lower-income residents in a situation without food and clothing, students formed partnerships with local organizations that could benefit from a donation drive to support those in need.

Not only did they engage with other young Climate Fellow students from around the world to compare ideas and assist in overcoming obstacles, but each student or team also launched their own donation drive. Read on to learn more about their efforts and how these young changemakers made incredible impacts!

Lily Coppel
Age 15
London, United Kingdom

Lily lives in London where the winters are becoming increasingly colder every year, and due to the cost of living crisis, the number of homeless individuals are also increasing. Lily wants to help make their lives even slightly more comfortable so for her project she collected clothing and sleeping items from people in her neighborhood.

Lily worked with a non-profit organization known as GIFT and collaborating with them allowed her to greatly extend the reach of the project from just her neighborhood to most of London. Almost 1000 boxes and bags of clothing and sleeping items were collected!

“I was so incredibly proud of what I achieved, I never thought it possible that I could have any impact, let alone this great of one,” says Lily.

When thinking about her future, Lily plans to pursue computer science, political science/global politics, or biology, specifically as a researcher in college. For fun she loves to read, attend aerial hoop and trapeze classes, play chess and program in Python.

Lily says don’t think that to make an impact it has to be something huge, anything can make an impact, no matter how small.

Aine Carey
Age 16
Newton North High School
Newton, Massachusetts

For her fellowship project, Aine partnered with the local Newton Food Pantry and worked with her school to organize a food and necessities drive. She focused on these donations after noticing how a recent rise in inflation has directly impacted lower-income families. Aine believes that no family should have to worry about affording food and basic necessities, and sought out to change this in her community.

Aine and her project partner Esha Bhawalkar reached out to members of their school and also spread awareness of the drive through social media and posters. By the end of the collection, they were delighted to receive boxes full of cereal, soup, baby wipes, shampoo, and other necessities for families in need.

“Personally, I am very proud of the outcomes that came with my project. It allowed members of my school to get involved with battling a problem in our community, and it was a great opportunity to educate members of my school on issues such as food insecurity,” she says.

Aine plans to study international relations and linguistics in college. She enjoys public speaking, singing, writing, musical theater and learning about sustainability.

If you want to make an impact, Aine advises to find something that you care about, research it, talk to others for advice, and don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.

Chan Myae La Won Thant
Age 17
No. 1 Basic Education High School
Tharyarwady, Bago Region, Myanmar

Chan Myae focused on helping individuals impacted by natural disasters with her project. She found most of the people who suffer from the effects of natural disasters need to rebuild their houses, need new clothes and food to eat.

Chan Myae worked to collect funding, food and clothing donations from students and teachers at her school. She collected supplies and three hundred dollars through the project and delivered the donation materials to 32 individuals fighting against natural disasters.

“As I am living in Myanmar, things were not that easy when I started my project but this Climate Leaders Fellowship never hesitated to help me with my difficulties. It made me feel happy, incredible and marvelous,” she says.

With plans to pursue international relations studies in college, Chan Myae feels the Climate Leaders Fellowship program gave her a glimpse of what’s to come in her career. During the fellowship she enjoyed the social events and meeting up with the other cohorts.

Chan Myae encourages taking small steps to reach big goals, instead of starting with big plans which can lead to many difficulties. Dream big, but start with small steps to achieve your ambitions.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone