Author and filmmaker Lynne Cherry wants everyone to know that kids have the power to bring about change. Her documentary, Young Voices for the Planet, tells eight different stories of kids who are offering solutions for environmental problems. “It has been exciting to meet so many cool, caring kids and working [with them] to help their voices be heard,” Cherry told TFK. Learn more about the young change makers featured in the film, below.
Felix Finkbeiner, 11, finished his homework on climate change and wanted to do more. So, he started Plant for the Planet, which helped plant 2.5 billion trees in Germany and 12 billion trees worldwide. "If the adults won't do something, we have to do it, because we'll be around for another 80 years and our grandchildren even longer," he says.
Olivia Bouler, 11, heard about the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and offered to help. She created and sold paintings of birds to raise money for the cleanup. She raised more than $200,000 for the National Audubon Society, a group that protects birds and other wildlife. "Use your strengths," she says. "My little talent has gotten me this far. I'm just an average kid who wanted to help."
A group of students at Santa Monica High School, in California, joined together to raise awareness about the dangers of plastic bags on ocean animals and the environment. One student stood covered in plastic bags in front of city lawmakers and asked them to ban plastic bags. It was a success. Santa Monica was one of the first U.S. cities to ban plastic bags.
In 2009, Girl Scouts in San Francisco, California, gave away 5,000 energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs to raise awareness about saving energy. The Sierra Club teamed with utility company PG&E to provide bulbs for the project. The girls went door-to-door giving out the free bulbs and a booklet about how to conserve energy and fight global warming.
Alec Loorz, 14, was motivated to help put an end to climate change after seeing former Vice President Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth. He founded Kids vs. Global Warming, a nonprofit group that teaches kids about climate change and what they can do to stop it. He has given more than 70 talks across the country. "Youths are affected more than anyone," Alec told TFK. "We need to lead the change."
Anya: Citizen Science in Siberia
Anya Suslova is from an icy town in the northern Asian territory of Siberia that is melting away due to climate change. To do her part to help end climate change, she helped Arctic scientist Max Holmes collect water samples from the sea. The water contained important information that will aid in research about global warming. “You can change the world, so do something,” Anya says.
Teenagers from Environmental Charter High School, in Lawndale, California, started a program called Green Ambassadors. They take environmental problems and create solutions for them. The team then spreads the solutions to other students and neighborhoods. They have inspired people to recycle, compost and plant trees to help the earth.
The Green Team
Four girls at George Washington Carver Middle School, in Miami, Florida, are helping to protect their city from climate change. The Green Team visits classrooms to teach other students ways to save energy and money. They were able to save their middle school $53,000 with simple actions.
For more information on the documentary, go to youngvoicesfortheplanet.com.