On the 15th of March 2019 two-hundred-and-eighty pupils from Westerford marched to the houses of parliament, taking a stand against climate change.
On this day school pupils from all around the world stood up for what they believed in and voiced their concerns to their governments about climate change. There were over 1.6 million people who took part in the strike in more than 125 countries. This global strike was inspired by a girl called Greta Thunberg. She is a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden who has recently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On the 20th of August 2018 she stopped attending school, rather choosing to strike outside the Swedish parliament, demanding her country reduces its carbon footprint. In December 2018 she was invited to address the United Nations Climate Change Conference; she was adamant that policy changes are necessary and that if the older generation is not going to do anything to bring about much-needed change, then the responsibility fell on us, the youth, to stand up.
Here at school, after many meetings, a significant amount of time and effort put in by the organisers, and an initial hold-ups, the go-ahead was given. Train tickets were bought, posters were made and Westerford prepared itself to take part in the Cape Town Climate Strike.
In the week leading up to the march, we had an assembly talk on climate change, took part in poster making events, and organiser, Matthew Peddie, along with GSI and the prefects blocked off Founders Field in order to raise awareness of the long-term effects on our environment of current lack of awareness and international government apathy .
We left school on the 15th of March after our final assembly and caught the train to Cape Town station. From the moment we arrived in the centre of town we began to feel the excitement and thrill of being part of something bigger and something so important.
Our support and presence was noted: Westerford High School brought by far the most pupils of any of the attending schools. We believe we truly did ourselves proud and took the first steps towards taking the future into our own hands.
It was an incredible experience to be part of a global movement and it felt powerful for us as young people to be calling on government to make a change. We hope to build on this foundation, with the march as a starting point for the change to come.
by Matthew Suter