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Student Voices: What do we want? Climate justice!

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Courtesy of Hudson Etkin
Julia Zeitlin speaks at a September climate strike in Palo Alto.

I participated in the worldwide climate strike event Sept. 20. Protests were held all across the globe. I was at one in front of Palo Alto City Hall, run by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center.

Hundreds of people showed up, both young and old, to take to the streets advocating for a livable future. Everyone was united by the energy, a sense of community and a common goal of protesting for action before it’s too late.

The protest started with marching and chanting around downtown Palo Alto. It was hard to ignore the seemingly never-ending train of people chanting and walking by the posh shops and restaurants of downtown Palo Alto. People eating their dinner or shopping all noticed, as was the goal.

The next portion was a rally in front of city hall. A massive crowd of people covering the entire plaza and more surrounded a small circle where the speakers stood. Being a kid, I could squeeze in and see from right in front of everything.

Signs were sprouting up everywhere in the crowd like extra heads. Many people were dressed up and going all out, but many people were also there without signs or crazy attire, just to show support. Six speakers, from ages 12 to 66 shuffled through, each with their own message that left the crowd cheering.

Inspired to take action

The most inspiring speaker was 12-year-old Julia Zeitlin. She is the founder of Sunrise Movement Palo Alto and organized many strikes and protests at her school, Castilleja School. To encourage Palo Alto to be more sustainable, she led a march from downtown Palo Alto all the way to U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo’s office. She shows that youth can do as much as adults in this crisis. Youth, with less wisdom, knowledge, money, political voice and simply age can strike change, even more than adults.

Take Greta Thunberg. She started her small school strikes in 2018 when she was 15. In just a year, Thunberg has sparked people all over the world to strike for the climate. She has created a major political impact. Again, this proves that youth activists can do just as much as adults. What Thunberg and Zeitlin are doing is similar to what we are trying to do.

At Egan Junior High, my friends and I are trying to start a climate change club. This club would spread awareness and spark action on this huge problem with fun activities and fundraisers. In sixth grade, we were taught about the science of climate change, but most people didn’t really care. Our club is trying to make them care, and see that doing things green is actually good and fun. We are in the club creation process right now but are bursting with ideas.

Kids, you can do things, too. It isn’t too hard. Join us in spreading awareness and vouching for change. Adults, I hope you can assist us, giving help to the youth, and changing things that kids simply don’t have access to, as in voting and changing things about the house. Kids, who are the future, can really do something and we hope everyone pitches in.

Hudson Etkin is a seventh-grader at Egan Junior High.

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