Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A new look for Service News Worldwide

For over four years, ICP’s newsletter Service News Worldwide has been providing readers with key news from the youth service and national youth service policy worlds. Historically, this newsletter has been released bi-monthly, featuring a detailed, in-depth look at a few key news stories and events from around the world.

On December 15, we launched the first edition of a new format for the newsletter, which will be released every two weeks. By releasing the newsletter more frequently, we are able to include more information while it's still new, and we seek to expose readers to more youth service events, news and resources than ever before. The bi-weekly newsletter will be complemented by a less frequent version that will mimic the style of the old, providing a deeper look at particularly compelling topics.

The new format includes a note from our Executive Director, upcoming events, brief updates from our networks, featured youth service resources/publications and news from both ICP and the youth service field in general. We also welcome submissions and feedback. Please feel free to share your news, resources and events with us by emailing info [@] icicp.org.

With this new format we strive to keep our subscribers up to date on recent news, resources and events to help further promote youth service around the world. To view the December 15 issue or archives of Service News Worldwide, or to subscribe, please visit the newsletter website.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Engaging our Wild Side

By Soren Graae

It is clear that many young people through the US and world are interested in engaging with the environment. It is our responsibility to provide young people with opportunities to develop and express this potential. Encouragingly, studies show that many young people have no lack of desire to engage in environmental preservation, education or other outdoor activities. Instead, a number of obstacles stand in the way of participation, including a lack of opportunity, poor infrastructure and lack of support. These are barriers we have the capability to control and therefore should be working to remove. 

Photo Credit: National Public Lands Day
Recently, President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO) and proclaimed the month of September as National Wilderness Month, a month to celebrate, explore, and preserve the vast history of our nation’s wilderness. Also during September, on one Saturday each year since 1994, is National Public Lands Day—a day devoted to improving and enhancing America’s public lands.

AGO recognizes the importance of fostering a bond between young people and their environment. The President called on government leaders, including the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, to lead the initiative. AGO aims to take a leading role in confronting many of our nation’s most critical environmental concerns. Here are some other examples of US organizations connecting young people with nature.
Just this past November, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), in partnership with HSBC Bank USA, awarded grants to three Washington D.C. area elementary schools to instigate water saving and environmental education projects. Students will learn about water conservation by installing a water efficient irrigation system in the school garden, employ rain barrels, track rainfall, and compare the data to previous water use habits. This grant will help children learn about water conservation while also making a lasting positive impact on the school itself.

NEEF was established by Congress in the National Environmental Education Act of 1990 as a complimentary organization to the EPA to advance environmental knowledge and action. Its core goal is what it calls “environmental literacy” for America’s children while improving their overall success.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Kids for the Bay, a project of Earth Island Institute, has been teaching environmental science to children and teachers using pro-active hands-on learning experiences for over 17 years. In 2005, it was awarded the EPA Environment Award.

Kids for the Bay instructs teachers on how to use the local environment as an educational resource to stimulate learning, allowing the entire community to work together to achieve common goals for their environment. The Kids for the Bay program aims to empower children with the knowledge and skills necessary to make educated, environmentally friendly behavior changes and to help solve many local environmental problems.

On the east coast, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is also a strong advocate for service-learning for young people. The Foundation recognizes the increased interest being shown in environment-focused service and responded by developing the Oyster Gardening in Maryland program. Opportunities like the Oyster Gardening program offer young people a unique opportunity to learn about the qualities of a fascinating and vital species, while also contributing to its preservation and the marine environment they help to maintain—helping to solidify a connection between young people and nature.

The EPA is actively seeking to incorporate more environmental learning activities into the lives of young Americans. In 2001, the EPA and NEEF conducted a brief survey to determine the “Environmental IQ” of the general public. The findings of the study concluded that most American’s know about certain environmental issues such as the significant impact of the loss of animals habitats or that the majority of carbon monoxide comes from automobiles.

However, only about 25% of Americans surveyed knew what the main cause of water pollution is (surface water run-off from yards, city streets, and farm fields), and only 33% of respondents knew that the US’s primary form of generating electricity was burning coal, oil and wood. Encouragingly, however, most respondents felt that environmental protection and economic development can co-exist, and that the federal government should be spending more on environmental programs. Test your own knowledge about the issues facing our environment here.

Without a connection with nature, how can we expect young people to become responsible stewards of our planet? While many children are outdoors scoring goals, running bases, and exercising, it is important to recognize the need for a more intimate and tangible interaction with nature. Opportunities like the ones mentioned above, in which young people can spend quality time in nature; learning, touching, and contributing to its preservation, allow them to foster an essential bond and appreciation for the environment.

Teachers can weave environmental learning into the classroom curriculum and seek to make it fun and engaging. Policy makers can encourage and support these initiatives through funding, advocacy and coordination. Parents can take our children on hikes through our beautiful National Parks, or participate with along with them in programs like Kids for the Bay. It is the responsibility of our current leaders, policy makers, teachers, and mentors to properly equip those of the future by encouraging these experiential service opportunities in the environment.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Youth delegates play an active role at the Climate Change Negotiations in Cancun

This year at the Conference of Parties United Nations Climate Change Negotiations (COP-16) in Cancun (November 29 to December 10) not only marked important agreements on addressing climate change, but also major increases in the visibility and magnitude of youth participation. It’s exciting to see so many young people gain the opportunity to voice their opinions on global issues at such an important event. Here are some of the highlights for youth participation at this event:

YOUNGO

Youth delegations have actively participated in conference proceedings as a unified coalition called the YOUNGO constituency, which represents all youth NGOs at the talks. As a constituency within the UNFCCC framework YOUNGO is given office space at the conference and has opportunities to participate by attending workshops, delivering statements, asking questions, and holding meetings with officials.

One of YOUNGO's most important achievements at COP16 was the coordination of the Conference of Youth. Youth concerned about climate change met in the three days prior to the climate talks for the 6th annual Conference of Youth (COY), which served as “a place for youth to help empower a global climate movement, and to prepare their strategies for bringing this movement to the UN climate negotiations.” Together the participants hoped to pressure delegates into agreeing upon solutions through lobbying, demonstrating and direct action. Youth delegates met in groups, attended workshops by climate change NGOs, and planned collaborative actions for the climate negotiations. With 500 young people in attendance, the Conference of Youth helped solidify the importance of youth to the outcomes at COP16.

Young and Future Generations Day


December 2 at COP16 was given the official designation of Young and Future Generations Day (YoFuGe).
This day called to attention the critical importance of the climate change negotiations in shaping the future for youth worldwide. Youth participants wore t-shirts bearing the phrase, "You have been negotiating my whole life - you cannot tell me you need more time," a quote from a 17 year-old from the Solomon Islands at COP15 in Copenhagen.

US-China Youth Climate Exchange

The US-China Youth Climate Exchange partners young people from both countries to promote cooperation between the nations. As the two largest emitters of carbon, the United States and China are the most important countries at the climate negotiations and their ability to cooperate is of paramount importance. Members of the US-China Youth Climate Exchange encouraged negotiators from each country to stop blaming each other and focus on collaboration.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Volunteering around the World

by Christina Malliet

The period surrounding the winter holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice – is one of the most popular times of year to volunteer. It can also be the time of year when the impact of volunteering is felt most significantly for those in need. Following is a sampling of some of the ways young people (and adults) from around the world volunteer during the holidays. Many of these programs are implemented through the European Voluntary Service (EVS), while others are done by individuals or independent organizations.

In Szczecin, Poland, children at Public Preschool #5 “Magnolia” perform a Christmas Eve play for homeless people in the community. Not only do children provide Christmas cheer for play attendees, but they also gain sensitivity to people in need.

In Cadca, Slovakia, young people aged 4-30 are placed by EVS as volunteers at the KERIC European Youth Center. Volunteers present Christmas celebrations as they occur in their home countries for members of the Cadca community. This show promotes a broadened, international reach of the Christmas meaning.

Through International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE), young volunteers in Chisinau, Moldova, run a stand at a Charity Christmas Bazaar, where they promote their efforts and those of the EVS, as well as raise money. The youth also learn about other volunteer opportunities in Moldova.

In the United Kingdom, TimeBank coordinates several volunteer opportunities. Volunteers help at crisis centers for homeless people, providing necessary companionship, hot meals, warmth and other services. Otherwise, people volunteer to provide confidential emotional support over helplines, spend time with or deliver meals to the elderly, or participate in a caroling service for hospice care patients. Finally, families host international students at Christmas, promoting peace and worldwide understanding by sharing holiday traditions.


Photo courtesy of TimeBank.

Volunteers at Pensioner Day Care Center in Rezekne, Latvia, decorate and organize activities for Christmas. These volunteers are live-ins, placed in the community through EVS.

Parishioners from the US and Mexico travel to Nogales, Mexico, over Christmas through the Navidad in Nogales program. While there, volunteers play with, feed, give presents to, and present the Christmas gospel to local, impoverished children.

Voluntary Service International (VSI), of Ireland, hosts the “Stop Occupying Christmas Project” in Bethlehem, Palestine, over the Christmas period. Through such services as agricultural aid and rehabilitation, Irish volunteers prepare Palestinian youth to make positive contributions to their future and to society.

Also through VSI, in conjunction with the Irish Wheelchair Association, volunteers in Donamon, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, work at the Cuisle Holiday Center. Disabled people stay at the center over Christmas, where they celebrate the holiday in comfort. Volunteers provide festivities for visitors.

If you have any more information about holiday volunteerism around the world, or if you would like to share your own story, we welcome your feedback in a comment below!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recapturing our Wild Side

“Too many of our rivers and streams are becoming polluted, and we are losing our connection to the parks, wild places, and open spaces we grew up with and cherish. Children, especially, are spending less time outside running and playing, fishing and hunting, and connecting to the outdoors just down the street or outside of town.”

-President Obama

Presidential Memorandum: America’s Great Outdoors

April 16, 2010


Photo Credit: Ralph Lee Hopkins, National Geographic,
Nankoweap Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park
Nature sustains our very existence and is the inspiration behind much of our modern science, medicine, technology and mathematics—not to mention that observing nature is also a fascinating pass-time.

Yet, despite the obvious importance of our natural environment, a growing number of young people are becoming increasingly detached from and apathetic toward nature. According to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day consuming media on various types of electronic devices (cell phones, computers, television, mp3 players etc.), with links to poor performance in school, obesity, bad behavior or boredom often reported in the heaviest users.

As urban sprawl continues and our environment shifts from “natural” toward a more manicured, artificial environment, human beings’, and especially young people’s, connection to our natural environment has begun to diminish. Consequently, vital environmental issues tend not to be prioritized. In order to meet the environmental challenges we face, it is crucial to encourage an interest in and affinity for nature by providing better opportunities for young people to engage with nature in meaningful and lasting ways.

The challenge of invigorating young people’s desire to respect and enjoy nature is a daunting one and at ICP we believe national service and service-learning are important avenues for accomplishing that goal. This blog entry is the first in a pair of entries that endeavors to discuss some of the most vital aspects in the larger strategy of fostering meaningful experiences with and preserving our great outdoors.

These strategies include: incorporating environmental education and service-learning into school curricula, engaging underrepresented young people in the cause, creating more opportunities for youth service in preservation and revitalization programs, and encouraging parents to allow their children to experience nature by utilizing America’s wonderful public lands.

Cultivating an affinity for nature in young people is a first and critical step toward safeguarding our environment. It is unrealistic to expect a person to care for something they have no appreciation for, or understanding of. Experiencing nature in meaningful ways is about more than just preservation, it offers young people a window into the beauty and complexity of nature that they might not otherwise have had, as well as an opportunity to learn about science, math, culture, history, etc. Compassion stems from empathy, and empathy necessitates a level of understanding.

Environmental education, both formal and informal, can be the first step toward a greater understanding of nature. The No Child Left Inside Coalition (NCLI) is a national coalition of over 1,800 business, health, youth and faith groups working to ensure that every student achieves “basic environmental literacy.”

The NCLI defines Environmental Education as “the study of the relationships and interactions between dynamic natural and human systems.” Experiencing these interactions first-hand while also contributing to nature preservation is an important piece of that education. It is a component of a young person’s education that is critical to his or her own future, as well as that of the planet. NCLI is working toward incorporating environmental education into the curriculum of elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States.

Weaving environmental service-learning activities into academic curricula is a critical method of encouraging the development of valuable connections to nature. In September, the Maryland State Board of Education recognized this opportunity and voted unanimously to make environmental education part of the public school curricula; something the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a strong advocate for environmental service-learning for young people, had been working toward. Maryland was also the first state to mandate service-learning participation as a graduation requirement which first came into effect in 1997.

Recognizing the value that early interaction with science and nature holds is vital to creating environmentally conscious scientists and public servants of the future. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who recognized the advantages of interactive learning long before the Maryland State Board of Education inserted it into curricula.

My elementary school science teacher, and later my favorite high school biology teacher, both held several classes in a much larger and more interactive classroom environment—the great outdoors. We would take “nature walks” to learn about plant genus & species or take samples for further study back in the classroom. Unbeknownst to us, however, was that we were forging a valuable relationship with nature, something a student cannot glean from a textbook or computer screen.

My memories of these particular teachers and classes were some of my fondest and most informative as a child, and helped to create the affinity and respect for nature that I have today. Research also shows that the great majority of adults who are active in the environmental science, engineering and advocacy fields “had formative outdoor experiences during childhood or had role models who directed their attention to the environment.”

Similarly, at the Forest Hills Elementary school in Pennsylvania, Nola Barton, an AmeriCorps Environmental Education Specialist, is helping teach a series of hands-on lessons about animals, plants insects etc. She says that “without these firsthand experiences, children often have many misconceptions about animals and nature, so we try to dispel some of these myths.”

Interactions such as these, seeing physics in action or examining first-hand how a mammal differs from a reptile, are the types of memories and experiences which could help spark much needed interest in science, mathematics and nature; and help to solidify an important bond between a young person and his or her environment.

A recent Purdue University study of 10 eighth grade science classes serves as a more tangible example of the success of interactive learning. This study involved conducting science classes in two distinct teaching methods. Five classes were taught in the traditional manner using textbooks, lectures and tests while the other half were taught using experimental interactive teaching methods including a design/engineering challenge. The researchers found that the students taught using the interactive teaching methods were more engaged in the learning process and more successful in grasping the material.
Photo Credit: Guido Tramontano Guerritore,
Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah,
National Geographic

The researchers concluded that through hands-on learning and direct experiences young people exhibited a deeper understanding and higher level of interest in the material being taught. Furthermore, researchers at Purdue also observed that while all students in the experimental learning classes made gains, these gains were especially evident in students whose native language is not English.

Earth Force, an advocate of environmental education for young Americans, states on their website that incorporating interactive environmental learning activities into education is vital to “fostering young people’s ability to critically assess environmental information and use it to make sound choices.”

Developing relationships with nature among young Americans through environmental education is an important step in providing them with the experience necessary to take on the immediate environmental responsibilities of our world. Planting the seed of this important bond with nature at a young age will help to solidify this key relationship.

With studies like the one completed at Purdue University exemplifying the benefits of hands-on learning, and government institutions such as the Maryland State Board of Education recognizing the importance of environmental education, the initial steps toward an environmentally responsible future are being taken. However, if we are to succeed in these goals, we must continue to encourage young people’s thirst for knowledge, exploration and a concern for in the environment.

A subsequent blog entry will follow next week, outlining some of the programs underway in the United States and globally whose aim is to help achieve these goals, as well as how and where you can get involved.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Celebrating International Volunteer Day

by Christina Malliet

This Sunday, December 5, is International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2010. Celebrated annually since the UN passed the resolution in 1985, IVD is observed in many countries around the world. Each year, people celebrate in more than half of the world’s countries, from
New Zealand to Lebanon to the UK. IVD focuses on celebrating the efforts of volunteers and organizations, increasing their visibility and offering them thanks. Typical activities surrounding this day include rallies, parades and campaigns that promote volunteerism.

Sunday also marks the launch of
IYV+10, a year-long campaign by international volunteer-based organizations worldwide aimed at better understanding, promoting and supporting volunteerism. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, these organizations, led by UN Volunteers (UNV), seek to claim recognition for volunteers throughout the year which will culminate in two UN General Assembly sessions dedicated to volunteerism in December 2011.

This year, UNV also hopes to highlight its efforts toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during IVD activities. The MDGs are a set of eight major goals, which address human rights issues like health, poverty and peace, that UN member states agreed to achieve by 2015. In honor of this Sunday’s holiday, UNV is asking for participation in an online community forum for its
Share the Story campaign.


Of course, a day recognizing volunteerism wouldn’t be complete without the activity itself, so many cities and groups are organizing community volunteer projects, hoping to excite people who may not volunteer regularly. UNV and many other websites also offer many resources for finding your own activities. It can even be as easy as volunteering online. For even more resources, please refer to our Thanksgiving post!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The end of military conscription opens new doors for service in Germany

The German government has decided it’s time for a change. Since 1957, the German military (called the Bundeswehr) has used conscription to keep the military in a close relationship to civil society. Championed by defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and passed by the conservative governing parties, a new plan for reform overhauls a large, inefficient military bureaucracy and replaces it with a smaller and more modern professional defense force—not to mention a budget savings of around 8 million Euros ($10.7 million).

But not everyone is happy about the changes to the system. Major opposition to the reforms has come from the social services sector. The end of conscription signals the loss of a significant source of social labor. Young Germans who object to military service for religious, health, or ideological reasons have historically been given the option to participate in civic duty – a program (the Zivildienst) that attracts as many as 90,000 participants each year. Under the new system, social welfare programs may lose these young men who served community needs in hospitals, at nursing homes, and in schools instead of joining the military. (For more information about Germany’s Zivildienst, please see ICP’s recent publication Youth Civic Participation in Action: Meeting Youth and Community Development Needs Worldwide)

For those concerned with the future of Germany’s civil service sector, the end of conscription does bring some positive results as well. In response to the strong protests of social service groups against the decision, the government has unveiled plans to bolster the voluntary sector. Family Minister Kristina Schroeder proposes national voluntary community service to replace the lost work force. This new program could provide new advantages such as expanding service opportunities for women, who were not eligible for conscription and did not serve civic duty assignments. Service stints would last up to 24 months, with some subsidization provided by the government. The new program could result in a more inclusive voluntary sector with better funding to pay for volunteers, and effectively replace the personnel lost with the end of conscription.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Volunteer on Thanksgiving

by Christina Malliet



This Thursday, November 25, is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Many people will go without turkey and stuffing this year, and there are many ways you can get involved to help. To give thanks and lend a hand this year, check out the following resources for Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities near you:
  • Compassionatekids.com offers advice for finding kid-friendly volunteer opportunities that you can do as a family.
  • Createthegood.org provides links to organization-posted opportunities, which are found by searching a location.
  • Dosomething.org has volunteer opportunities organized by locations. The site features a unique program in which volunteers can have new listings texted to their cell phones.
  • Idealist.org facilitates the exchange of resources and ideas between individuals and organizations. This site also has a section on kid-friendly opportunities.
  • Serve.gov features US government-supported volunteer positions, organized by location.
  • Volunteermatch.org lists postings by location for both volunteers and non-profits. This site has a section on kid-friendly opportunities.

Consider taking advantage of the volunteer activities listed on these sites to help those in need. All of these organizations provide volunteer opportunities all year-round, so make sure to check them out at other times of the year too!

Happy Thanksgiving from ICP!

Photo credit here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Summer of Service Program

by Christina Malliet

On November 8, Shirley Sagawa, author of The American Way to Change, wrote a piece for The Huffington Post on the importance of a Summer of Service (SOS) in combating the “summer slide” – the academic regression students experience while intellectually unengaged during the summer months. Sagawa suggests that such a program would provide opportunities for personal growth equal to those of summer enrichment camps, especially by encouraging students to cultivate a sense of purpose and take on leadership roles in their communities from an early age.

At ICP, we initiated the idea of Summer of Service in 2005 with our vision of a national program that engages young teens transitioning from middle to high school in an intensive “rite of passage” service-learning experience. In particular, ICP's work on this project included serving as an expert consultant on legislation related to the initiative, building support among stakeholders, and conducting extensive research on existing programs. ICP maintains a significant collection of resources for SOS programs and educators on our online resource center, including information on research, effective program practices, news about SOS, and a database of SOS program around the country.

Like Sagawa, we were excited about our successful advocacy for the inclusion of Summer of Service in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of April 2009. The Serve America Act allotted $10 million in funds for SOS programs, as well as $10 million for grants of $500 for students who complete 100 hours of service in the program. These generous funds allowed nearly 4,000 students to engage in service-learning in summer 2010.

As Sagawa says, this program is inevitably give-and-take for the youth and the communities they serve, proving that young people are effective in building a better world for tomorrow; “Communities across America might find an important new resource in their own backyards -- young people who are ready to serve, if only they are asked.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

Young journalists promote global issues through Student News Action Network

by Christina Malliet

Students are getting involved in issues that matter to them by disseminating news and encouraging action on these issues as part of an innovative network. In collaboration with Taking It Global Organization (TIG), students and teachers from Washington International School created the Student News Action Network in 2009. A year later, students still maintain the network, with the help of newly-added member secondary schools from around the world.

The Network is a collaborative, interactive, online newspaper. It brings together a system of students from around the world to address such issues of global significance as poverty, the environment and human rights. Member schools, which include Washington International School, American School of Doha, KIS International School and many more, act as either regional hubs or contributor schools, and their students write news pieces for the online newspaper.

In light of recent talk about the effectiveness of journalism as a means of civic engagement, this network provides a particularly powerful solution. Not only do students gain valuable experience in the field before the age of 18, but they are also involved in the discussion and promotion of awareness of global issues. They have the power to make a difference in the world through this act of civic participation.

At ICP, we know, thanks to our extensive research, that youth service can be an invaluable resource for national and international development in areas of need. A first step to tackling these needs is promoting awareness and getting others to care. This is where Student News Action Network comes in – students write about these issues to encourage their peers (and adults) to care. As the Network continues to grow, other newspapers might benefit by looking to the example of these young people.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Learn and Serve Challenge

The White House supports serving in communities as a tangible way for all Americans to contribute the country’s recovery. One great way to get involved in service is by participating in the Learn and Serve Challenge, an initiative currently spotlighted in a video at the top of the White House service website. The Learn and Serve Challenge encourages service-learning in the United States, enabling “over one million students to make meaningful contributions to their community while building their academic and civic skills." By pairing community service with the academic curriculum, students learn inside and outside of the classroom how to work together to solve community problems. Students engaged in service become active citizens committed to improving their communities while learning skills that help them to achieve academic success.

Learn and Serve facilitates service-learning opportunities by supporting programs with grants, providing training and resources to teachers, administrators and parents, and disseminating research, curricula and program models (for free!). One innovative Learn and Serve program is Summer of Service, proposed by Innovations in Civic Participation and approved for funding by Congress in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009. During the summer months, Summer of Service programs engage young people in structured community service projects to meet human, educational, environmental and emergency community needs. Read more about Summer of Service on the ICP website.

Service-learning offers a powerful resource for shaping the next generation of American leaders. Tell us your service-learning stories in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

World to Politicians: Get to Work on Climate Change

Photo Credit: 350.org/Jim Dougherty

In the absence of government action, and in recognition of a critical threat to our planet, 350.org organized a worldwide party on October 10th, 2010 called Global Action Day. 350.org’s Global Action Day was not only a day of service devoted to cleaning up our planet and building our clean energy future, but also a powerful way to send an urgent message to world leaders that inaction on climate change policy cannot last any longer. Citizens of the world in 188 countries participated in over 7,000 events. Find out what events took place near you.

As part of this effort, on October 10th, ‘Work Parties’ from around the world led by example, installing photovoltaic panels, weatherizing homes and schools, planting trees, cleaning up parks, and finally calling politicians to let them know that they are getting to work on climate change and asking why the politicians aren’t. One politician not remaining idle on climate change is Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who performed the installation of solar panels on the roof of his presidential house himself. President Nasheed said “We don't have the luxury of time to sit and wait for the rest of the world to act. We are getting to work to start the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

Photo Credit: 350.org/Cynthia Ong

The He Xanh (Vietnam Green Generation Network), a youth organization in Vietnam, organized over 20 events throughout Vietnam with over 1,500 young participants. In Ha Noi and Ha Tinh organizers raised awareness for the planet through the promotion of the environmental and health benefits of vegetarianism. Many other organizations and clubs held bike rides and marathons to promote awareness for climate change issues. Young Green Generation Network organizers also implemented activities to raise awareness for the harmful effects plastic bags are having on the planet; which account for a significant percent of debris washing up onto shores, polluting oceans, harming wildlife, and toxins contaminating soil and waterways.

The geographical diversity and participation level among the many participants of the Global Action Day, from Vietnam and Afghanistan to Maryland and South Africa, gave weight to the powerful message for action sent to the world’s political leaders. Some world leaders were involved in the day’s activities themselves, while many more praised the Global Action Day event. United Nations Climate Chief Christina Figuerers said, “When citizens are inspired to take action, it is easier for governments to initiate real climate change action.” We must be the force behind the fight to save the planet. As UN Climate Chief Figuerers suggested, how can world leaders remain idle while their citizens take up actions to address climate change?

 

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