WEST HILLS, Calif. – Bailey Sellfors, 16, is grabbing art supplies from her mom after school. And then she grabbed one of her best friends, and headed to a classroom at Chaminade High School in West Hills to get creative and prepare for the Youth Climate Strike planned in downtown Los Angeles.
The girls cut up cardboard boxes and began painting climate slogans on them.
“I just think it's sad that we have to have this issue on our minds all the time," Bailey said. "There's actually this new word that I love you have been using called 'eco-anxiety,' where people don't even want to talk about it because it scares them so much, because we literally have 10 years before we pass the point of no return for climate action.”
Bailey is an ambassador for Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles, and her job is to motivate and inspire other teams to take up a cause that has become very important to her.
She was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, whose year-long strike in front of the Swedish Parliament and carbon-neutral sailboat voyage across the Atlantic have made her an activist icon.
“I think it's so amazing that so many youth are coming out on Friday, because this really sends a message and I think that is so important,” Bailey said.
Thunberg’s battle cry, “Act like our house is on fire,” is getting people to pay attention. And it definitely got Bailey’s attention.
“She's basically who started the Fridays for Future movement. And that really inspired me,” said Bailey.
A solid majority of American teenagers are convinced that humans are changing Earth’s climate and believe that it will cause harm to them personally and to other members of their generation. That’s according to a new Washington Post – Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
More than seven in 10 teenagers and young adults say climate change will cause a moderate or great deal of harm to people in their generation. Roughly one in four have participated in a walkout, attended a rally or written to a public official to express their views on global warming — an impressive level of activism for a group that hasn’t even reached voting age yet.
“I think it’s so amazing that so many youth are coming out on Friday," said Bailey. "That really sends a message to our politicians and that’s so important.”
While many parents wouldn't ordinarily support their kids skipping out on school, Bailey's mom, Natalie Barron, is encouraging her climate activism.
“I'm so proud of her because there's so many of us adults included, that are sitting back and we're listening and we're taking in the information and we're all complaining about it," said Barron. "But to see someone taking such strong action, sacrificing her time with her friends on the weekends, and she's investing for all of us.”
As global leaders and corporations convene for climate talks next week, there is a youthful movement underway, fueled by a determination to change the course of our future.