The Green Team at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School in Sarnia formed this year just prior to Earth Month to answer the need for heightened environmental stewardship and awareness in our school and local community. Our first event as the Green Team was to organize a Schoolyard Cleanup with WWF’s Living Planet @ School and we are so happy to be a part of this initiative. We decided that alongside the Schoolyard Cleanup we would invite students to make a $2 donation to a local non-profit.

The day that our clean up was planned for, students were encouraged to wear blue and green in support of Earth, nature, and all its wildlife. With significant rain and wacky weather the scheduled day of our event, we had to postpone to a drizzly morning the following week. Students came out with their gear and their smiles to tackle the litter around our school, surrounding neighbourhood, and nature trail. That first clean up was a good first step …but there is much more to be done, including more clean ups, and much more environmental action!

The next thing St. Pat’s Green Team decided to do was advocate with other local groups (Climate Action Sarnia and Sarnia Sustainability Ambassadors) to lobby city council to declare a Climate Emergency. On June 17th, four of our Green Team student reps presented and we shared a video including many other high school and elementary student voices from the city. Reps for Sarnia Sustainability and Climate Action Sarnia presented powerfully on this issue that afternoon too.  The resulting success was Sarnia declaring a Climate Emergency in large part due to the advocacy of youth! This is a huge move for Sarnia, “Chemical Valley”. There are great initiatives our city has already been taking but this declaration is a sign that our community is ready and willing to step up and take even bigger action than ever before. Sarnia will use this declaration as a call to action and a guiding principle to inform future decision-making across all sectors. It means that Sarnia can be proud to join the group of other progressive cities who have made declarations like this; it means Sarnia is eligible for federal grants for further environmental initiatives. This is a message of hope and positive change for our community and the beginning of so much more work and action to come!