British Columbia

'I realized how much power I held': Climate change workshops offer high school students hope for the future

A group of students at the University of British Columbia has started climate change workshops at two high schools in Vancouver to help teenagers feel empowered about the future of the planet, rather than frightened.

Program intends to rollout in schools across Vancouver this fall

UBC Grace Nosek, in red, sits at a table of students including 15-year-old Nina Rossing, pictured at the computer. They are working together to combat climate change. (Submitted by Grace Nosek)

A group of students at the University of British Columbia has facilitated climate change workshops at two high schools in Vancouver to help teenagers feel empowered about the future of the planet, rather than frightened.

The project, which is in its pilot phase, was created after its organizer, UBC PhD law student Grace Nosek, visited students around Vancouver to ask them how they felt about climate change.

She says her questions were overwhelmingly met with pessimistic outlooks.

"Extinction, the end of the world and the death of all animals," was the general response from students, Nosek said, speaking with Stepehn Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

She says she wanted to give young people hope and a way to affect change.

"We feel like there's a moral prerogative to give them a sense that there's a future...that they can have agency on climate," she said.

Inspiring climate ambassadors

Nina Rossing, like many of her friends at Prince of Wales Secondary, has known about climate change for a while but never felt she could really make a difference until she joined the workshop.

"I realized how much power I held and how much power this generation holds. That could change the world," said 15-year-old Rossing.

Hundreds of students walked out of classes Friday afternoon to protest government inaction on climate change in downtown Vancouver. ((Evan Mitsui/CBC))

She says simple decisions like buying less clothing and changing the type of light bulb used at home could make a significant impact if everyone were to commit to making a difference.

Since taking part, Rossing has also reached out to her local MLA, Melanie Mark, as well as Education Minister Rob Fleming to demand more education on climate change in B.C. schools.

"We do learn the science behind climate change, but we're not really told how we can act [to fix it], she said.

"That is, I think, a huge problem."

'The scale of hope'

The program launched two weeks ago and Nosek says she has already noticed the effect empowering one person has on others.

Students rally in downtown Vancouver Friday to call for government action on climate change. ((Evan Mitsui/CBC))

She says she has watched Rossing inspire hundreds of other students to take ownership over the planet.

"The scale of hope is the is the only thing, in my mind, that takes on the scale of the crisis," said Nosek.

In the fall, she intends to launch workshops in schools across Vancouver. 

You can listen to the full interview below;

The Early Edition host, Stephen Quinn, speak with Grace Nosek and Nina Rossing about inspiring high school students to be climate change ambassadors. 6:36

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.