Standing beside the computer labs watching people go in, vote and walk out was probably the best day of my life…
High school is what Facebook would call an achieved life event. I had amazing friends, loved learning, playing sports and of course the boys. Being in year 12 in 2009 it was the time to think of the future. Which university? What job? Where to go in life? But for me I had been thinking of the future for quite sometime.
From an early point in my life I was aware of the impacts of climate change. We’ve all heard “Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth alarmed me about climate change” story but for me it wasn’t just alarm: it was fear, panic, depression and a mixture of determination – to act!
My high school wasn’t what you would call the most environmentally aware, we rarely learnt about sustainability or climate change, we recycled but didn’t recycle enough we had money but never invested in solar panels. Why aren’t we doing enough? Hello! climate change!
My frustration and loud opinion regarding climate change got me in trouble amongst my peers and teachers. They refused to think a young girl like me would seriously care about the facts. But my determination, passion and let’s face it annoying yet talented ability to make teachers hear me was successful.
It was a phone call from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition that made me feel like my life had literally stopped and taken a left turn. Milo, from the AYCC wanted me to hold an event in my school for Australia’s first youth vote on the Government’s emissions target.
It was my last year of high school, my last moment to do whatever it took to make my school understand that climate change is going to be our future to face. I wanted to give back to the school that gave me endless opportunities and challenges. I had to do this!
Planning Youth Decide was an amazing and whirlwind experience of coercing (bribing) year 7s to run into classes wearing Youth Decide posters telling students to vote,Youth Deicide stalls, fun actions, stickering and postering the entire school, changing backgrounds of every single computer in the school to Youth Decide and running small climate change info sessions. I had the full support of AYCC to run my event and when the week in September arrived, I had live music at lunchtime and students lining up outside two computer labs and the library to vote! WOW!
I can honestly say that, that moment – watching my friends and peers vote for their future had a major impact on the person I am today. AYCC’s Youth Decide campaign gave me the opportunity to create change in my school, inspire and personally gave me the confidence to educate others about the impacts of climate change.
Whether you are a young year 7, a graduating year 12, or in university, I encourage you all this year to hold a Youth Decide event in September. Sticker your school, tell your friends, have fun, and remember that Youth Decide is all about YOU, your vote, and your future.
AYCC Volunteer, Bal Johal National Schools Coordinator.