Suburban students joining Greta's global climate strike movement this week
When Greta Thunberg walked out of her school in Stockholm, Sweden, to demand climate justice, it inspired Naperville student Amulya Jasti to take a stand for the environment.
Jasti, 17, a senior at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, will join thousands of young people worldwide Friday in answering Thunberg's call for a coordinated global climate strike ahead of the United Nations' Climate Action Summit on Monday.
Strikes are planned Thursday through Monday in Carol Stream, Des Plaines, Elmhurst and Naperville, with the largest youth gathering expected Friday at Chicago's Grant Park.
"(They) show adults that we mean business," said Jasti, who plans to skip school to attend the 11 a.m. strike in Grant Park, followed by a march to Federal Plaza.
She then will join a 3:30 p.m. rally at the Naperville Riverwalk Free Speech Pavilion to gather support for a climate action plan she hopes the Naperville City Council will enact that would control future carbon emissions and restrict residents' energy sources.
"It honestly doesn't matter how popular a strike is, for any kind of protest; it matters how much you are invested in it," Jasti said. "I believe that (politicians) are still treating us like children. Right now, all we can do is skip school, protest and just disrupt whatever anti-climate change ideas there are out there."
The U.N. urges immediate action in the face of shifting weather patterns threatening food production and rising sea levels increasing the risk of severe flooding on an unprecedented scale.
Learning that only 11 years remain, according to leading experts, before damage from climate change is irreversible was eye opening, said Patricia Agnes, 18, also a Neuqua Valley senior.
It prompted Agnes to become an organizer in the youth climate strike movement. She will lead a group of students headed to the downtown Chicago rally by train.
"It is unacceptable that we have leaders who aren't doing anything," Agnes said. "Striking is a way of getting attention to the climate crisis, but it is also making sure that leaders are pushing for legislation like the Clean Energy Jobs Act to be passed."
A group of York High School seniors is organizing a strike at 5 p.m. Thursday at Elmhurst Presbyterian Church. The strike had to be held a day earlier than the global event because it conflicted with the school's homecoming game Friday, said senior Nick Mastro, 17.
Organizers have put up posters on school message boards, at the library and at downtown Elmhurst businesses. Local environmental groups also are helping drum up participants who are encouraged to walk, bike or carpool to the event due to limited parking at the church.
Getting youths to think about their everyday choices that affect the environment is part of the goal, Mastro said.
"They can recycle more, stop using plastic water bottles, as well as bigger-picture things like starting to contact representatives and elected officials demanding environmental action," Mastro said.
Two other strikes are planned for 9:20 a.m. Friday at the Fountain View in Carol Stream and 11 a.m. Monday at Oakton Community College's Des Plaines campus.
"It's open to anyone," said Debra Kutska, Oakton sustainability specialist. "We wanted to have a local option for students to get engaged on campus ... learn about issues of climate change and what actions they can take to mitigate the effects. It's important that our students gain awareness and skills and also find ways to connect and make a difference."
Lead: Striking raises awareness, especially among politicians, organizer says