The Next Generation of Changemakers
Written By: Kayla Kraiker, Roots & Shoots: U of T Chapter Leader and JGI Canada volunteer
Category: Youth Power
Excited chatter filled the air, as a dozen high school students filed onto a school bus in the pouring rain last month. The eager teens were on their way to a weekend of team and leadership building activities held at the YMCA outdoor camp in Caledon, Ontario.
This was the culminating event in JGI Canada’s first Launch + Link pilot program where students from across the province designed unique year-long projects that addressed local environmental concerns with an understanding that solutions must reflect the needs of people, animals and nature.
From raising awareness of the decline in honey bees to organic gardening to leading educational workshops, the hardworking students tackled issues they were passionate about, determined that their efforts would make a difference in their own communities.
Colton helped save the Grimsby Irish Grove Woodlot from development.
The rain that continued to pour down when the group arrived at the camp failed to dampen anyone’s spirits. Nestled among 263 acres of rolling hills and the changing leaves of the forest, the camp was the perfect setting for the youth to reflect on their accomplishments and how they can build on success and widen the network of young people who, like them, want to make the world a better place one community at a time.
JGI Canada’s Dani Dye coordinates Roots & Shoots high school programming, and worked closely the Launch + Link teens. “It’s incredible to see the growth in these young people. I’ve been working with them throughout the year, and their confidence levels have just blossomed.” Sabrina, a volunteer with JGI Canada and a Roots & Shoots youth leader agreed wholeheartedly: “It was incredibly exciting to see such young people engaged in these issues, and emerge as leaders in their own right.”