Eden Babbitt: Cycling for change
Written By: Rachel Gruber, JGI Canada
Category: Our Champions
It was a spring day in 2019, inside a packed concert hall alongside thousands of passionate conservationists, where 13-year-old Eden listened to the legendary Jane Goodall share her life story and her messages of hope through action. This event would change the course of Eden’s life, setting her on a mission to protect the environment, “Hearing Dr. Goodall speak opened my eyes. I realized that this work needs to happen and it needs to happen now. This is my mission in life, my goal.”
Since that fateful night, Eden, now 15, has become an environmental leader. She has built a passionate community of conservationists through her fundraising organization Eden for the Environment on Instagram and all across her home of Bruce Grey County. With support from her community, she’s raised funds for conservation through holiday raffles and sales of handmade goods, she’s led the next generation of environmentalists as a forest school camp counsellor and won several community achievement awards.
Following her most recent Christmas draw, Eden knew she wanted to do something big for her next fundraiser. So when her family began planning their annual summer trip, Eden wondered how she could use this opportunity to accelerate her environmental work.
“I began to think, how could I get from point A to point B with as little environmental impact as possible?” And suddenly her cycling fundraiser took root. She put the word out to her online community and started working with a trainer to prepare for the ride. Her dedication and determination pushed her to reach her fundraising goal of $1000, going towards the critical conservation work being done by the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, all while building awareness about sustainable transportation.
On August 18th, she mounted her bike and took off on her two day, 190.1 KM ride over hills and through the scorching summer heat, along Lake Huron from Kincardine to Tobermory. During the most challenging moments of her journey, Eden told herself “just 1 more KM” And that turned into another KM, and another one, until she finally crossed the finish line. Just as Eden raced through the finish line and into Tobermory, she also passed her fundraising goal – raising over $5000 to solutions that empower people to protect animals and the environment we share.
Her fundraising and awareness-building initiative was a huge success. But what Eden does goes so much deeper than that. When thinking about what keeps her motivated, she remembers what she learned from her hero, “Jane wasn’t telling us that there is a problem. Instead, she’s telling us that we need to be the solution.” So Eden is dedicated to passing this message on, empowering people to be part of the solution for the environment.
She celebrates the small changes people make in their everyday lives and encourages them to try new things whether that’s eating more local food or giving reusable straws a try.
When it comes to young people who want to make a difference but don’t know where to start, Eden wants them to know that their time is now. “This world is for young people now. Past generations have had their opportunities to change it – now it’s our turn. And if we want a world to continue to live in we’re going to have to make some serious changes and follow in the footsteps of the environmentalists that came before us and the ones that will come after us. This world belongs to us. We have to protect it. We have to save it.”