Earth Day as a Chicago Youth Activist

Guest Blog by Adelina Avalos, NRDC Midwest Youth Ambassador

Going into my senior year at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, I helped lead and organize the youth climate strike in Chicago. This event brought thousands of students and other activists together to march for strong climate action.

I live on the Southeast Side of Chicago and have seen the devastating impacts of industrial pollution firsthand. In my neighborhood, there are storage facilities for toxic pollutants like petroleum coke and manganese right across the street from homes, schools, and parks. That's why I've dedicated the last couple of years to protecting frontline communities like the one where I've lived my whole life, raising awareness about climate change, and fighting for a clean energy future for Illinois. For example, In March, I participated in Lobby Day! I took a bus to Springfield, Illinois to ask my Illinois lawmakers to pass clean energy legislation.

From April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, to April 24, activists, performers, thought leaders, and artists will come together for an empowering three day livestream mobilization. Here are a few reasons why I believe in a clean energy future, and why I’m participating in Earth Day 2020, virtually! Striking digitally is not what we originally envisioned, but it is still crucial. This allows for learning from many inspirational people about environmental injustices and gives the platform for anyone to ask questions.    

  1. Health: The rare cancers that come from environmental justice communities have affected my family and mutual friends. Participating in Earth Day means we prioritize our environment and our health.
  2. Unemployment: Clean energy in Illinois can limit unemployment! My mom has been unemployed and my uncle currently is. It takes a toll on the family. People have no choice but to work in dirty energy, and have done this work for years. Why should we leave them behind? They need to be front and center in the green economy—along with youth like me.
  3. Climate change: Climate anxiety is so real. I wake up most days and just feel like “what’s the point? Our world is going to end soon anyway?” One of the few things that keeps me going is that I am doing my part and doing my best to save the world. I do this by fighting for clean energy in Chicago and Illinois, and I do this by participating on Earth Day. 

Do you feel like you are doing your part? Join Earth Day Live here: https://www.earthdaylive2020.org/?source=nrdc-homepage&referrer=group-natural-resources-defense-council-nrdc

About the Authors

Gina Ramirez

Midwest Outreach Manager

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