Members of the student-led TLDSB G7 Student Senate recently presented the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) with an action plan on climate change.
The TLDSB G7 was created to help ignite student voices by bringing student issues to the board and to have open communication between board members and students, said Kaylee Kelly, student trustee and senate representative from Huntsville High School. The G7’s seven members are elected representatives from each of the seven TLDSB secondary schools.
On June 9, members of the G7 presented a 68-page document outlining 10 phases in their climate change action plan. It outlines topics such as food security, mental health, transportation, resource availability, and economic sustainability.
“It has school board and individual school action items that either the board or school and students must abide by a certain timeline,” said Kelly. “We hope that students, educators, staff, parents and/or guardians, anyone within the TLDSB community, understands the little and big impacts in our everyday lives that contribute to climate change. With this plan we hope it reaches all audiences within the TLDSB community; whether that is students, educators, staff, and parents [and] guardians.”
The climate change action plan has been approved and will be implemented in September 2020.
“Our climate is changing and we must make changes to our daily lives in order to make true change. Our motto with our climate action plan is, ‘the climate is changing, and so are we,’ which means that as stewards, commitment must be made at TLDSB to ensure that our future is sustainable for all TLDSB schools, from every student from kindergarten to grade 12,” said Kelly. “As the natural, political, social, and economic climate continues to shift, it’s important that TLDSB recognizes its impacts, and how influential the board as a whole can be when it comes to making changes. We live within the communities of the Haliburton Highlands, Muskoka and Kawartha Lakes; it’s crucial that we change to keep these lands beautiful.”
She said the student senate began brainstorming ideas in September 2019.
“We began to work on this plan in January and through the COVID-19 pandemic over Google Meets. Lots of hard work and many hours have been put into this plan to make it come to life. We’ve had so much help and direction from superintendents and staff from TLDSB,” said Kelly. “The plan is a living document, which means that it will continually grow and evolve over time and look different for every school, and will be updated by the G7 Senate every spring.”
Kelly said climate change education is immensely important in the school board and starts with the educators themselves.
“‘Phase 9: Creation of Eco-Spaces, Promoting Outdoor-Learning’ of our climate action plan carries that schools will host ongoing professional development, also known as PD days, for educators about climate change and environment education. It’s key to ensure professional development is interdisciplinary to educators so they can approach their classes with ecological topics, and to consider inquiry, place-based learning models to students,” she said. “It’s important for students to understand terms such as greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprint and single-use plastic impacts.”
With the impacts of COVID-19, Kelly said the timelines in the action plan have been updated to allow more flexibility than initially planned.
As for those no longer in school, Kelly said anyone can read their action plan and implement it into their own homes.
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