The YHS Community Service Program seeks to promote student understanding and action on local and global issues. This year, Chloe and Dana, both in Grade 12, are the Community Service Captains for the Senior School. As part of their year-long contributions to the program, they have made environmental issues a focus. As part of this initiative, they organized a Sustainability Fair. In conversation with Ms. McDonald, Chloe and Dana share their insights and experience leading this wonderful initiative this year.
Ms. McDonald: Describe the Sustainability Fair for our readers.
Chloe & Dana: On November 20th, 2019, the halls of York House School were packed. Leaders from numerous environmental non-profit organizations, companies, and clubs from the Vancouver community came to the school to share what they do and why they do it. The buzz of excitement and curiosity in the air characterized the school’s first-ever Sustainability Fair.
Interactive booths were set up in the main entrance of the school and hosted by various local sustainability-oriented groups from the local community. Some of our own students from the Green Club showcased their sustainability initiatives. This was an idea exchange: students, teachers, and staff and community leaders signed petitions, explored volunteer opportunities, and learned about environmental issues.
Ms. McDonald: What was the purpose of the Sustainability Fair?
Chloe & Dana: We wanted to both spread awareness on sustainable practices while encouraging students to engage with the community. We wanted to give students an engaging and accessible source of education for what can often seem like an overwhelming issue with no clear path to finding a solution.
Ms. McDonald: What inspired you to get involved with environmental issues?
Dana: I find great inspiration from youth such as Greta Thunberg who demand change from world policymakers, leaders, and politicians with such fearlessness and conviction. It reminds me that even if the odds seem impossibly slim, there is always something so beautiful about seeing the sliver of hope amid darkness.
Chloe: I believe that the movement behind climate change is about more than just saving the planet in order to survive. Combating climate change calls for a cultural shift that demands a selflessness where individuals, businesses, and governments must abandon the most convenient or lucrative practices. These practices have been the result of the structures and systems of our society, but are not set in stone. This movement is an opportunity to evolve and opportunity for innovation and change is what most inspires me most.
For decades, it has long been a concern of the global community to regulate the hazardous practices that have been wreaking havoc on the only planet we know to harbour life. Yet, more than ever, there exists a need for action, education, and advocacy surrounding modern-day environmental crises.
Ms. McDonald: What was your hope for the outcome of this fair?
Chloe & Dana: We hope to inspire students to get involved in the community. We hope students feel inspired to consider ideas and solutions to address the challenges we face with regards to climate change, waste mitigation, and carbon-emission pollution.