Teen Initiates Emergency Flood Fund for Vulnerable Community in Philadelphia
All Articles

Teen Initiates Emergency Flood Fund for Vulnerable Community in Philadelphia

The Climate Leaders Fellowship guides high school students in researching climate change effects within their own communities and finding solutions they can implement locally. Students partner with local organizations to launch their projects and collaborate with other students around the world to achieve their goals.

The fellowship is offered as a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Read about Sana’s experience below!

Hello! My name is Sana Barige. I am in ninth grade and live in Pennsylvania, USA. I enjoy volunteering around my community to help make an impact, and the Climate Leaders Fellowship allowed me to do so in a leadership role with numerous resources and guidance! I was focusing on a local community called Eastwick in Philadelphia, who face immense flooding. I worked to raise awareness as well as start an initiative for an emergency flood fund.

My project began to raise awareness for the Eastwick community. After discussing with many people in the township, I helped Eastwick gain the initiative for a Flood Emergency Fund Money Drive.

Eastwick, the southwestern-most neighborhood in Philadelphia, sits on the lowest topographical point of the city. As a result the residents face severe and constant flooding.

Being a predominantly black community with many residents being retired or living on a fixed income, residents struggle to recover from the damaging floods. The government plans to build a levee to help support Eastwick, but the community has no means of flood resiliency and recovery money.

My project has set up and begun raising money for flood emergency money. In addition, I have also set up numerous platforms to help bring awareness to the Eastwick community.

For my awareness portion, I have set up social media accounts on Tiktok and Youtube. I have also posted the flyer on Instagram, Snapchat, and numerous messaging platforms. For the Tiktok page (@eastwick00), I have posted three different contents. I have received almost 600 views for each on this platform, and the views continue to increase. I also have likes and comments for the videos I have posted, inquiring about the tragic flooding. I also have a Youtube account (Eastwick Flood Awareness) in which I am going to begin posting more.

Regarding crowdfunding, even though one session of Fellowship has ended, I will continue working to raise money for this cause. I am also reaching back to Eastwick Township to set up large scale fundraising events to help Eastwick.

As part of the awareness, throughout my actions to demonstrate the extreme flooding, I have received comments on Tiktok which demonstrate concern and messages in group chats which show that awareness is being spread. Additionally, the organizations I am working with are very happy to have someone take initiative, and were really helpful in setting up these platforms.

My Fellowship journey has felt immensely successful to me, but also to my community, as I have brought awareness to a town who was facing something horrible and overlooked. This project has given me hope and motivation to keep fighting for a change for the Eastwick community.

The Climate Leaders Fellowship is an experience which teaches you a lot about Climate Change and your local community, but also encourages you to do something about it. I loved the process of learning about the various issues present in my surrounding community. I also would like to highlight the resources and guidance which the Fellowship provided me with in order to take action and make a change.

Additionally, the experience of talking with people across the globe, and hearing about all the various issues present in today’s world is truly engaging. I also gained wonderful contacts, such as working with the Eastwick township throughout the evolution of my project. The Fellowship experience encouraged me to look into my surrounding community, find an issue, and try to solve it. I never would have done so otherwise.

The Climate Leader Fellowship enabled me to take a leadership position to make contacts and experiences which I will carry with me in the future. The skills I put to work for my project are not things that can be taught in a classroom.

Using real world scenarios, the Fellowship is a wonderful experience which combines education, socializing, and volunteering, all led by amazing people!

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.