On Wednesday, January 18th, 2017, students participating in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability’s Youth Sustainability Leadership Program (YSLP), along with other Greater Cleveland high school students, led Earth Day Coalition’s annual Student Environmental Leadership Conference for their peers at Baldwin Wallace University’s Center for Innovation & Growth. The Conference was attended by approximately 100 students representing fourteen private and public Greater Cleveland high schools.
The conference featured a presentation from the 2016 Sustainability Summit, themed Year of Sustainable Transportation, and several workshops highlighting Sustainable Cleveland’s 2017 theme, Year of Vibrant Green Space. Carol Thaler, Director of Administration and Outreach at Great Lakes Biomimicry, provided the keynote speech, and professionals from Holden Arboretum, Cleveland Metroparks, Let’s Move! YMCA, and Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District supported workshop leaders as expert facilitators.
Facing History New Tech sophomore Randy King, was the first student presenter of the day, providing an inspiring story of his journey as founder of Cleveland Bike Library, a concept inspired by his participation at the 2016 Sustainable Cleveland Summit. Since the Summit, Cleveland Bike Library has partnered with Bike Cleveland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, including their Safe Routes to School Program, Ohio City Bike Co-op, and Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation. To raise money for the project, Randy created a crowdfunding page with ioby and received a $5,000 grant from Cleveland Climate Action Fund’s Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Climate Resilience Initiative.
YSLP students from MC2STEM, Laurel, Holy Name, and John Marshall led four workshops relating vibrant green space to art, health, trees, and waste reduction. Participants had the opportunity to design a plan to turn vacant land into green space; plan a ninja warrior-style event to get young children outside and moving; design a school tree plan inspired by Cleveland’s own Tree Plan; and create upcycled flower bouquets for Cleveland nursing home residents and hospital patients that are unable to access green spaces.
In the coming weeks, YSLP students will work with sustainability experts to plan and implement community service projects supporting vibrant green space and other sustainability initiatives in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Students will be invited to showcase these projects at Earth Day Coalition’s Annual EarthFest event on April 22, 2017.
Want to Get Involved?
- Follow Cleveland Bike Library on Facebook for updates or donate to the ioby page.
- If you’re interested in contributing to the Youth Sustainability Leadership Program, please contact Stacy Albin at [email protected]
Photo Credits: City of Cleveland Photo Bureau, Earth Day Coalition