Rosemont Elementary student Obada Alzidi adds to one of four parachutes painted at the school last week as part of the Parachutes for the Planet initiative. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: Nelson students paint Parachutes for the Planet

The youth-led initiative lobbies governments for climate change action

Judy Betts isn’t sure how to talk to children about climate change. But she hopes they have something to tell her about it.

Betts, a retired teacher and volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, was at Rosemont Elementary last week helping students contribute to Parachutes for the Planet.

The initiative, which has students paint parachutes used to lobby government for climate change action, is underway in 44 countries according to Mother Earth Project.

Betts said the kindergarten to Grade 5 students surprised her by how much they already know about climate change.

“Unfortunately I do get kids who say to me, ‘I’m scared.’ I find that a hard thing to address,” she said. “Because it is scary. 2030 is when these Grade 1 students will graduate, and that’s when we’re supposed to have met the carbon emission standards as written out in the Paris Accord. I sure hope we make it. I don’t know.

“So their feedback is a curiosity about the planet. I hope a deeper appreciation of the need to take care of the planet as well.”

The four parachutes made at Rosemont are each divided by elemental themes — earth, fire, water and air — and include students’ messages about how to protect each element.

Betts said the parachutes will be displayed locally before being taken to Victoria along with approximately 30 other locally made parachutes. There they will be laid out on the grounds of the provincial legislature on May 13.

Last Ottawa a parachute made by community members in Castlegar was among the over 30 parachutes displayed in Parliament Hill in Ottawa by Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Betts became a grandmother in 2017. One year later the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report recommending global warming be limited to 1.5 C higher than pre-industrial times in order to avoid irreversible environmental changes.

That report, Betts said, moved her to action.

“I gotta be honest, I got scared for the future of my grandson,” she said. “So that really put a fire underneath me to do something.

“Giving a voice to children who can’t vote and yet their future is being determined by people who can vote but aren’t listening to them … I’m thrilled to be enlightening and empowering.”

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Kindergarten to Grade 5 students painted four parachutes each based on the elements earth, air, fire and water. Photo: Tyler Harper

Rosemont Elementary’s parachutes will be on display at the provincial legislature grounds next month. Photo: Tyler Harper

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