You’ve heard them on the streets, now hear their stories

With the consequences of global climate change more prevalent than ever, it is inevitable that over the past year the age group that will be most affected has stepped into the spotlight: the youth. With many of them not eligible to vote yet, young people from around the world have taken the streets to demand action from their officials and voice their increasing concerns about the threat of climate change.

Founded by Greta Thunberg, one youth movement that has gained traction is the Fridays for Future movement, in which students from around the globe strike for climate in their local cities every Friday. Students skipping school weekly to protest has become a bizarre enough phenomenon that the news has taken notice, but very rarely is the story portrayed from the youth’s point of view. Last fall, I had the pleasure of following around the youth activists of Fridays for Future in DC, who spend every Friday not just striking, but also visiting Congress members and writing letters demanding action.

Here are the stories of four of the nation’s most influential Fridays for Future activists: Ari Rubenstein (17), Khadija Khokhar (18), Sophia Geiger (17), and Kallan Benson (15). When the Fridays for Future movement was awarded the Champions of the Earth Award by the United Nations in 2019, Benson was one of the activists who publicly declined the award on stage. Benson then delivered an eye-opening speech explaining how the movement refuses the award because "awards are for celebrating achievement, but the achievement we seek has not occurred". 

In my video, these inspiring Fridays for Future leaders explain why they strike for climate every Friday and why the climate movement urgently needs not just the passion from youth, but from everyone.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.