An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Katie W. '20

Pictured: Katie W. '20 (center) with fellow climate strike organizers.  

On September 20, I joined millions of others in striking for the future of our earth—globally, youth and adults alike formed the largest climate strike yet, participating in thousands of events. Locally, strikes were organized in Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, Bellingham, and Wenatchee, and the Seattle event alone amassed between 15 and 20 thousand participants, making it the biggest Washington State climate strike to date as well.

Although I now consider myself a passionate proponent for climate action and activism, I was not always involved with the climate strike movement. While I shared a general concern for the planet, I was rather reluctantly convinced by a friend to attend the first global climate strike on March 15. At the time, I felt wary about missing school, my parents’ constant advice to value my education resonating in my mind. I was worried that participating in the strike would convey the wrong message to them, that I did not care for the schooling that they had worked so hard to get me.

However, after witnessing the turf field of Cal Anderson Park flood with enthusiastic youth, spending a day listening to rousing speeches by countless talented speakers, several of them my peers, and having fruitful discussions with students from all across Washington, I felt a profound change in myself. I finally understood the meaning of the strike—it united and empowered the collective.

It was this empowerment that then inspired me to continue being involved with the climate strike movement. Throughout the following months, I learned about current environmental policy, worked with other youth to organize two more strikes, and explored the idea of how I could live my life more sustainably—a newfound consciousness that I have carried directly into my everyday life, whether it be through taking steps to reduce my plastic waste, focusing on purchasing local products, or simply reminding those around me of the environmental aspect of their life choices.

In these manners, participating in the youth climate strike movement has not only given me a chance to interact with others, but has provided me the opportunity to change fundamentally as a person, from a rather apathetic onlooker to a more engaged and aware member of the community. It has taught me that a strike isn’t just an opportunity to make a sign and skip school; oftentimes it can be the push that someone needs to begin to actively acknowledge and address an issue that may have always lingered in the back of their minds. Thus, while I was initially hesitant to participate in the global climate strike due to my obligations as a student, I now realize that even as a climate activist, I still can be one—not only of the typical classroom setting but of the world.