Youth Organizers Take the Lead in California

Authors: Rosa González | Education Director Aekta Shah, Green For All Fellow, and the Youth Sustainability Council she co-leads, are a true inspiration within the movement for an inclusive green economy. As we as a society begin to step up to the challenges of climate change and poverty, we find that education is critical to both. Aekta Shah was inspired to become an educator by her experience as a student in public schools, seeing the way in which the system tended to work for some students and not for others.

I see education as a powerful leverage point which can either send someone in a negative direction or a positive one, and I truly believe that given enough energy, commitment, and love, we can send all youth down a positive path.

And it is this commitment to equity that she applies to her work with the "Youth Sustainability Council," a project of the Wangari Maathai Center for Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design with the Green Energy and Technology (GET) Academies. The Youth Sustainability Council is made up of high school students of color from nine different GET Academies from throughout the East Bay. Council members meet once per month and use a popular education approach to exploring issues of sustainability in California. They are currently surveying their peers to get a sense of what issues most deeply resonate with their constituents. They will then compile the results and use them to draft policy recommendations that they will take to their city council members, mayors, and eventually to their State Assembly representatives in Sacramento. Through student-led organizing and advocacy, leaders like Aekta and her partners within the East Bay Green Corridor are building critical infrastructure for long-term change to benefit ALL Californians!

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