Youth participating in an Extinction Rebellion climate strike event
Beyond participation in organized climate strikes, there are many ways young people and their families can make systemic changes to lessen our impact on the world’s climate. If you or your child are looking for ways to be part of the solution, the Puget Sound region is home to several youth-led and family-friendly climate action organizations. Read on to learn about these groups, their upcoming activities and ways your family can get involved.
Parents are encouraged but not required to participate in the Climate Action Families’ age-based, youth-led programs. Climate Kids (ages 0–7) provides developmentally appropriate exposure to environmental topics. Plant for the Planet participants (ages 8–12) slow climate change by planting trees to help with carbon sequestration. Check the website for upcoming events and Plant for the Planet climate justice ambassador trainings. Climate Action Youth for tweens and teens is focused on direct action and youth empowerment. The teen-led Zero Hour movement creates entry points, training and resources for new young activists and organizers who wish to take concrete action regarding climate change.
Earth Guardians is the organizational plaintiff in the ongoing Juliana v. United States case, representing a group of teenagers who are suing the federal government for denying their right to a clean environment. Originally an accredited environmental high school, Earth Guardians has evolved into a global organization training youths to be effective leaders in climate and social justice movements. It operates through Earth Guardian Crews, which range in size from 10 to several hundred young people who participate in climate strikes, lawsuits, app-based challenges and other creative actions. Individuals can start by studying their online engagement guide or jump right in to join a crew or start a new crew on the Earth Guardian website.
The U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion has local groups in Seattle and Puyallup supporting their call for the legally binding policy to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2025. The group is focused on nonviolent civil disobedience. Keep up with meetings and events on the Seattle group’s Facebook page and join the chapter’s closed FB group.
Inspired by Greta Thunberg (a Swedish student who is credited with raising global awareness of the risks posed by climate change), Thornton Creek Elementary School student Ian Price began striking in front of Seattle City Hall every Friday. He has since been joined by other youths and adults, too. Loosely organized as Fridays for Future, everyone is welcome to join the strikes on any Friday from 1 to 2 p.m. Keep track of their activities on Twitter all year, or just show up at City Hall on a Friday.
Parents for Future is an informal group of family-focused adults that shares environmental news and information on individual and collective climate actions. Join the group on Facebook (“Parents 4 Future Seattle”) to find out about climate-related marches, strikes and meetings. Then show up in person when your schedule and inclination permit.
A program of the nonprofit Urban Native Education Alliance, Seattle Clear Sky Native Youth Council is an inclusive, Native American–focused, student-centered, volunteer-based group working to develop social and environmental leadership. It offers mentorship and empowerment workshops as well as life skills and leadership training.
Formed by four stay-at-home moms, Seattle Green Families focuses on the little steps that families can take to be greener. Recognizing that even ingrained habits can be challenging to maintain once life is complicated by children, the group de-emphasizes actions that can seem overwhelming with kids in tow. Instead, on the group’s Facebook page, members share their successes and strategies in connection to nature walks, City Council meetings or park cleanup events.
Focused on strength in numbers, the Sunrise Movement supports the Green New Deal and campaigned for the Democratic Party to schedule a climate debate among presidential candidates. Through a combination of leadership training, online campaigns and local actions organized by decentralized “hubs,” Sunrise engages youths (and older allies) in whatever manner best fits each participant’s schedule and temperament. Young people can join existing hubs in Seattle, Tacoma or the Eastside, or form their own on the Sunrise website.
Washington Green Schools is a nonprofit organization that works through school communities to engage kids in sustainability. Green Schools operates a sustainability certification program, offers teacher training in climate science and provides environmental science curricula for classrooms. Parents can partner with their child’s school to pursue certification and use the organization’s online guide to learn about the most effective ways they can help the planet at home.
Youth Climate Strike organizes nationwide climate strikes. The Washington chapter participated in the strikes on March 15 and May 3 of 2019, and over the summer partnered with the youth-focused, adult-led group Our Climate to host a climate workshop in Seattle. Anyone younger than 25 (including elementary and middle school students) is welcome to join, and adult allies are appreciated. The best place to keep up with Washington chapter activities is via Instagram, but youths who aren’t on social media are welcome to email the org for information.