Singing the words, “We are all your children. If you hear us, join us now,” Vashon-Maury Island youth led their fellow islanders up the highway on Friday, Sept. 20, to demand action on climate change.
The demonstration, organized by Vashon Climate Action and The Backbone Campaign, came on the same day the Climate Strike Coalition held similar events worldwide, urging for leaders attending the annual United Nations meeting in New York City to address global warming. The concept was that participants would walk out, or “strike,” work or school and march with others to send a message to leaders.
The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber was pleased to see islanders demonstrate in a peaceful and respectful manner on an issue they care about.
But what is most impressive is the fact that youth, many of whom are not even old enough to vote, took time away from the classroom or work to urge world leaders to act on an issue that will most definitely impact them. In an era where many kids are zeroed in on their smartphones, it is refreshing to know that they chose to march and send an informed message.
Leading that charge on the world stage was 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, who started the concept of striking for climate change and gained worldwide attention for it. She made remarks at one of the Climate Strike events on Friday.
“We have not taken to the streets sacrificing our education for the adults and politicians to take selfies with us in hopes that they really, really admire what we do,” she said. “We are doing this to wake the leaders up.”
Closer to home, Joel Wiegner, 17, a student at Vashon Island High School, participated in Vashon’s climate strike on Friday.
“More and more, we’ve started to shun the thing that gave us the tools for living, and I think that’s a crying shame,” said Wiegner, referring to the Earth. “If we sort of conglomerate together like this … we have just as much of a voice as the people who can actually vote. … We want a change to happen so that we don’t have to fear anymore.”
While it’s hard to track down whether the number of youth participating in events like the Climate Strike are going up or down, the number of voters are not.
According to statistics posted on the Washington Secretary of State’s website in May, there were 110,740 people between the ages of 18 and 24 who voted in the 2018 general election. That’s almost 10,000 more voters in that demographic, who voted in the 2013 general election.
If enthusiastic comments from Vashon youth at this past Friday’s Climate Strike are any indication, then it sounds like Washington will only add youth to its voter registration rolls. But until the numbers are in, The Beachcomber is just as happy to see them participate in discussions regarding one of the most important issues of our time. Youth have a unique and powerful voice in society. So listen up, all you adults out there.