Students participate in national climate change walkout

Gabi Ford, J1 Staff Writer

As young activists become frustrated with the lack of change, action begins to take place. On Friday, September 20, students and adults all around the world did just that, and Kalamazoo County didn’t hesitate to participate. This movement was led nationally by Greta Thunberg, a sixteen year old climate change activist, with the goal to receive climate justice, persuade people to listen to the science behind the issue, and to overall pressure politicians to act upon the issue. People from all over Kalamazoo County gathered at the Western Michigan University flagpoles to march to Downtown Kalamazoo while chanting sayings like “climate justice” or “no more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil.” With a common goal in mind, this crowd of activists marched proudly.

Portage Northern High School senior Basma Hegazy took action right away by putting together a group of high schoolers who shared the same passion about the cause. Hegazy volunteers regularly with climate change activism organizations such as Sunrise, Extinction rebellion, WMU’s Climate Change Working Group, and Kalamazoo Climate Change Coalition. As she worked with administration to put her ideas into motion, Hegazy stated the she received some support from a few administrators, but overall she “can only wish for the school board to support vital causes, such as this one, more.” The young activist began to get involved a few years ago when she first realized the importance of the issue. “I want to work for this cause for the rest of my life. I plan on studying environmental and political science to move forth and go to law school, to become an environmental lawyer,” Hegazy says.

Senior Alex Thompson is just as passionate about climate change and became involved on Friday as well. The young activist has been continuously working with candidates up for the 2020 elections at the local level. Thompson states he is passionate about this issue because,  “the young people who walked out are going to be the ones that will ultimately feel the negative effects of climate change.” He is satisfied with the way the administration handles these walkouts because, “It’s obviously a very hard thing for them to navigate, so all things considered I think they’re fine.”  Thompson wants this movement to tell politicians to prioritize those they represent, over the money interests that are causing climate change.

As students from all over Kalamazoo County gathered at the Western Michigan flagpoles, Chloe Carlson, a senior at Kalamazoo Central High School, shared her passion with the whole crowd. Carlson is a member of the Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition. The KCCC is a diverse group of people that plan and organize events such as this walk out. Carlson says that her school is supportive of the topic of climate change, but not quite supportive of the walkouts. With or without the support of her school, Carlson ultimately wants to “see legislation being written and passed that sets out a plan to protect our earth from the horrendous treatment we have put it through.” As Carlson cont

inues to fight for what she believes in, she stays true to the little things that will evidently save our world. Carlson states that she recycles, turns the lights off, stays away from meat and dairy products, and overall lives a sustainable life by being aware of what she is buying. Kalamazoo Central is on its way to becoming a green school thanks to student activists like Carlson.

On Friday, September 20th, the world came together to fight for a cause that is not based on race, political party, or gender, but one that applies to everyone in this world. Kalamazoo County was only a small part of the four million people that walked out. As the fight for climate justice continues, the voices of Portage Northern High School students will remain loud and proud.