Youth Leaders Unite to Bring Recycling and Environmental Education to a Local Mosque
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Youth Leaders Unite to Bring Recycling and Environmental Education to a Local Mosque

The Climate Leaders Fellowship program teaches students about climate change and environmental sustainability, and guides them in designing and launching an impact project in their own communities.

The online program is offered in a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Khadeejah participated in the spring 2023 cycle! Read all about her experience below.

Khadeejah Alsheikh
Age 16
Osbourn Park High School

My name is Khadeejah Alsheikh, and I am a 16-year-old rising junior at Osbourn Park High School. I live in Virginia with my amazing parents, two cats, and three energetic brothers, who are my entire world.

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved science and nature and have always tried to find ways to get closer to nature in everything I do. Fostering my love for science, I plan to major in biomedical engineering to fulfill one of my biggest goals of becoming an Orthopedic Surgeon. In my free time I love to go horseback riding, play softball, tennis, soccer with my brothers, surf, and I am currently writing my own dystopian novel.

I recently joined the Climate Leaders fellowship and partnered with a fellow classmate from my school, Yusur. Yusur and I decided to give back to our community by focusing our project on our local community Mosque, educating the Muslim community there.

We implemented recycling procedures in the Mosque (where there weren’t any), such as introducing recycling boxes, using fewer disposable utensils and tableware, replacing them with reusable tableware instead.

To educate our community, we created a fun and interactive PowerPoint to teach our community about global warming and educate them about the benefits and impacts one person can make by recycling.

After the PowerPoint we had the youth play a lively Kahoot. Yusur had an amazing idea to also plant trees and a garden at our Mosque to provide the youth a fun interactive way to learn about the environment and help it at the same time. So, we brought in gardening supplies and allowed the youth to plant their own little planet helpers.

We gathered some help from the mosque volunteers to keep our recycling program going. It was a bit of a struggle at first for the recycling program as many people didn’t use the recycling boxes and stuck to the trash cans, but with persistence, we were able to implement recycling at our local worship and community center.

Some quantitative numbers came mainly from our recycling program especially during the month of Ramadan. Every day when the members of the mosque came to break their fast at the mosque around 500 water bottles were collected and then taken to the landfill at the end of the week. We collected almost 8,000 plastic water bottles among other materials.

Another aspect of our project dealt with raising money to help the needy in the middle east that do not have access to good environments. Yusur and I set up a henna fundraiser at our school and asked for some of our classmates to help. We used eco-friendly henna, with more plant-based dye that helps the environment instead of the chemical-based dye some hennas use. We raised around $190 and sent the money to a credible charity in the Middle East.

Participating in the Climate Leaders Fellowship really allowed me to explore new horizons and step out of my comfort zone. It surprised me how little I had to do in order to make a significant impact.

I loved the experiences I had with the Climate Leaders Fellowship and the fact that I was able to actually do something to help the environment was amazing to me. This fellowship reinforced my leadership, and I was able to make connections that will last for a long time. I will definitely participate in the fellowship next year and continue trying to make an impact.

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity to spread awareness.

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.