Youth Voice: The Real Change Makers

“Great changes in the destiny of mankind can be effected only in the minds of little children.”

— Sir Herbert Read

Children are our future!  

I’m sure you’ve heard this before? Maybe in a speech, a song or a motivational quote on instagram. This rang especially true to me this Sunday when I took part in a march/protest for clean air in Monterrey, Mexico called Yo Respiro MTY.

A previous blog post on Earth Mamas International describes issues that Monterrey has been experiencing with persistent air quality. This has been especially hard on children as they are kept inside, not allowed to play at recess or participate in sports programs when air quality markers are reading high.

Yo Respiro MTY was initiated by a group of children who were fed up with these issues and wanted to see change and action in their city surrounding air quality and environmental issues. They were inspired by protests, also initiated by youth, in Europe surrounding awareness of Climate Change issues. One of these protesters, Greta Thurnberg, a Swedish teenager who started the School Climate Strikes and whose speech at the UN Climate Change Conference went viral. Here are a few quotes from that speech and some of her other words of concern spoken while in protest:

“You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”

Greta Thurberg

“I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act,”

Greta Thurberg

The children from Yo Respiro MTY saw how effective this speech was and felt empowered by the protests being organized and carried out by youth. They thought they could do the same here in Monterrey to raise awareness of one of the major issues surrounding this city.

Yo Respiriro MTY Logo

These children organized a march to take place in Monterrey where they would walk with supporters to the Palacio de Gobierno, or the Government Palace in central Monterrey. After everyone gathered in front of this historic building, all wearing white or green, the organizers each took turns speaking out on what they want to see changed in Monterrey and how we can make it happen.

Children speaking out at the protest for Clean Air

While air quality was the main driver of this march, it was not the only topic brought up in these speeches. The kids spoke out on plastic pollution, had strong messages on reuse and reduce and highlighted the importance of education while holding educators responsible to help spread awareness.

I don’t know if it was the energy of the crowd or the passion in speeches but, I didn’t expect to feel so moved by this event. I could feel the energy as we marched towards the Government building. It was families walking together hand-in-hand towards change. I couldn’t help but feel like this is was a step towards making this change, a shift in mindset or a feeling of being a part of the solution. Everyone was there for the same reason, for a better future for our children and It was children who made this happen.

As I write this, there are groups of students organizing to meet and protest for their future. This Friday, there is a School Climate Strike being organized by High School and University students here in Monterrey and all over the world. These strikes are making an impact on youth by empowering them and letting their voices be heard.

Students at the march for clean air

Do you know of any kids making a difference in your community? Or maybe it’s time we foster this passion in our children and show them that they can make a difference. It is their voices that need to be heard, they are the ones who will be affected by our complacency and our mistakes. Let’s listen to them and share their messages.

“We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.” – Greta Thurnberg

#forourchildren

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