The Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg was awarded Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year on Wednesday beating out a list of candidates that included Nancy Pelosi, the anonymous whistle blower who prompted the impeachment proceedings and President Donald Trump, who criticized the teen on Twitter Thursday for winning the award.
Just over a year ago, Thunberg, the youngest person to be awarded the honor, sparked a movement among youth when she began skipping school in protest of climate change. Her “School Strike for Climate” has since mobilized millions of young people around the global to demand world leaders take action.
Thunberg has traveled the world speaking to heads of state, the Pope and her peers, including the four million youth and adults who protested on Sept. 20 in the largest climate demonstration in history.
Thousands of young people have supported and been inspired by Thunberg’s efforts. Here are just a few students in Georgia who have made a name for themselves as youth climate activists.
Bria Brown, 17, senior, Grady High School
Brown’s advocacy began when she lobbied for safer streets after a fellow Grady student died in a tragic accident in 2016. The movement caught fire and began to spread to metro Atlanta and beyond. The 8-year student government veteran enjoys serving as a liaison between her peers and administration and wants all students to know how important it is to voice their feelings. When students from another high school reached out and asked her to organize a climate strike she agreed.
“I think we have got a long way to go before everyone recognizes climate change is a real thing and impacts everybody,” Brown said. “The habits we have now are very bad for the earth and very bad for us too. We have a long way to go but we are taking steps to make the Earth greener and sustainable as well.”
Bailey Carr, 15, sophomore, Decatur High School
Carr first learned about the school strikes in Europe from a post on Instagram. She posted on her own IG stories and asked if anyone wanted to do participate in one in the U.S. After attending a strike, she and friends planned a strike on the Georgia Capitol on March 15 with about 50 attendees. They did it again in May and had about 75 attendees. By the Sept. 20 strike, they had the connections, resources and partnerships with other groups to draw hundreds to the Capitol.
Thunberg’s honor feels like an honor for every young person supporting the movement, said Carr whose mission remains “to get people involved so that the government has no choice but to listen to our cry for help and take swift and just action about climate crisis..”
Jordan Madden, 15, sophomore, Mount Zion High School
Madden helped organize his first climate strike earlier this fall and like many young people across the state, he is driven by the impact climate change could have on their lives.
“Our politicians now are not taking it as seriously as it needs to be taken,” he told the AJC in an interview.“I believe our politicians are taking pity on us because we are younger than adults and they feel we don’t have a voice because we aren’t old enough to vote. Young people across the country have the power to make change,” he said.
Hannah Testa, 17, junior, West Forsyth High School
Six years ago, Testa began lobbying against single-use plastics meeting with Georgia legislators and focusing on increasing awareness about plastic pollution. She has also been a strong presence at youth climate strikes.
“As a youth activist, it can be hard to balance my family, friends and school ... (Also) trying to get the stereotype out of people’s heads that I am charity work (but) that I am here for business and that I am passionate about the issue is another problem as well,” she said in a recent interview with the AJC.
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