Young Voices for the Planet film series

Young Voices on Climate Change believes that youth, who will bear the brunt of climate disruption, can play an essential role in limiting its impacts by informing and catalyzing societal change and persuading parents and the public to act responsibly. Youth successes empower others. The Young Voices for the Planet short documentaries champion and publicize inspirational, authentic and positive youth-led models of success -- young people learning about climate change and acting to reduce CO2.

The films are used by Alliance to Save Energy, Climate Change is Elementary, Dream in Green, Green Schools Alliance, University of Colorado, Will Steger Foundation and many city government sustainability departments to inspire students before providing energy audit support to reduce school carbon emissions. Earth Day Network and the Jane Goodall Institute and other groups are discussing sharing content with our Youth Action Map designed for us by ESRI. Many groups host public screenings and forums; Sierra Club shows the films at Green Festivals throughout the US; Academics use the films in conference presentations and workshops. We bring the films and programs directly to educators and youth through museums and science centers such as the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, and other institutions whose writers laud the films in their blogs. The films are also available subtitled in Spanish.

The films help teachers to teach about climate change by acting as an antidote to fear. At the University of Colorado, educators showed the films to teachers before diving into the discouraging climate science. The Young Voices for the Planet films break through barriers of fear and "motivated avoidance" so people can take action.

Young Voices on Climate Change - Green Ambassadors

Goals: 

The YVFP films were designed:

  • to teach climate change and youth empowerment by demonstrating the importance of teaching about solutions before diving into the doom and gloom of climate science.
  • to develop "self-efficacy" The belief in one’s ability to make change. The YVFP films are youth models for self- efficacy encouraging young people to take control of their environment and destiny. Self-efficacy becomes an integral part of the individual, changing the way they think of themselves for the rest of their lives. )
  • to inspire youth through the action of their peers. The films empower other youth to find real-world solutions to CO2 emissions. They realize that they, too, can engage local governments, businesses and school administrators and help each other develop confidence in themselves as agents of change in the world.
  • to provide replicable templates– save the environment, save money, save humanity.
  • to document youth success stories about reducing CO2
  • to give young people a voice.
  • to alleviate children’s fear about climate change and move them toward hope, empowerment and action by inspiring them through these youth success stories.
  • to document stories of youth using scientific data to argue their positions in order to help other young people and adults understand the role of science in sound decision making.
  • to reach and encourage a critical mass of young people to teach their parents and schools how to reduce their carbon emissions in order to galvanize the US public--adults and kids alike--and create a paradigm shift in the way that society views, and acts to abate, global warming.
  • to encourage youth and adults to speak to elected officials about supporting sustainable energy.
  • to provide teachers with materials to augment the films to facilitate students involvement in carbon reduction projects.
  • to widely distribute the films in order to accomplish the above goals. dissemination and web-streaming of the films.

"Find your team. Find your passion. Find your power!"
Mari McBride, Estabrook Elementary School, Lexington, Ma., 11 years old

High Level Impact: 

The films have been very effective at achieving YVCC's goals mentioned above:

  • empowering youth through positive role models
  • developing youth self-efficacy
  • inspiring young people to speak out and develop their own CO2 reduction projects
  • engage youth and adults alike.

In an NPR interview, 11-year-old Alice Van Evera describes the transformative power of the YVFP films; realizing that kids have power, she founded “Save Tomorrow”. “Those kids in the films are just like us, and if they can do something, so can we," she thought. The “Save Tomorrow” kids testified at their town meeting to challenge a town law prohibiting solar panels on town buildings. They got a standing ovation, the law was overturned and panels were installed. The girls also save a tract of local woods. The "Save Tomorrow" team exemplifies how the YVFP films spawn meaningful CO2- reduction projects.

Another example: When Nicole in the film ‘Dreaming in Green” told her developer father about the energy audit they were conducting at school he made fun of her. But when the students saved their school $53,000, her dad went out and changed all the air-conditioning units in the office buildings he owned to Energy Star units.

The films lead young people to realize that they have the power to change the world. Studies show that the one thing that keeps people from taking action is the belief that they are too insignificant to make a difference. Once they realize that they do have power their lives are transformed forever.

Point of Contact: 

Lynne Cherry, YoungVoicesforPlanet@gmail.com, Young Voices on Climate Change