It was a fabulous day at the sold out Youth for the Environment and Sustainability (YES) Conference at the Lawrence Hall of Science on January 30th. Over 300 Bay Area middle and high school students gave up their Saturday to learn more about what teens are doing to mitigate climate change.
Middle schools in Marin County are reaching or exceeding 50% of the school population using active transportation â€“ walking and rolling to school. Students from Kent, Miller Creek, and Mill Valley Middle schools were selected to share their experience to empower action and to show what a â€śtipping pointâ€ť looks like at schools where green transportation is the norm through sustained Safe Routes to Schools programs and events.
Santy Hernandez Maldonado from Miller Creek explained that her school has 75% green trips due to a popular bus service, yet students are encouraged to walk and bike for health benefits. Miller Creek created the 50% Challenge and a school-wide pledge campaign to increase active transportation habits.
Anna Silverman told how Kent Middle Schoolâ€™s Eco Action Club creates theme days to promote green modes of transportation. Their prizes for â€śGo Greenâ€ť days coincide with a holiday or festive event at their school such as pie for Pi Day (March 14), chocolate hearts for Have a Heart Day (Valentines Day), and Do-Nut Drive and Hot Walk-o-late Days.Â Kent club students promote action with social fun, and their events are hugely popular.
Theo Koffman and Kara KneafseyÂ spoke of how Safe Routes started at Mill Valley Middle School when they were just two years old.Â They said they are proud to be a part of the legacy to promote green modes of transportation through their Student Leadership Council, which serves over 600 cups of hot chocolate on an event day.Â The majority of students at their school travel green and the bike racks are overflowing well beyond capacity. The culture is embedded; hundreds of students walk and roll to school each day, and the minority commute in cars.
Our Marin teens felt inspired to learn that they are part of a much bigger community of young people, from all over the Bay Area, who are passionate about creating healthier communities and reduce climate change.