It's never easy to say goodbye! After eight months of field trips, outdoor adventures, public-speaking training and information workshops, young leaders at the SUCCESS Youth Leadership Millennium Program joined their parents, friends, program providers and SUCCESS elders at the 2012-2013 closing ceremony last month to celebrate their achievements. By the look of things, these young men and women are ready to take on the world!
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For the David Suzuki Foundation, this was a special and heartwarming wrap-up party. It marked the second year the Foundation has brought nature, sustainability and climate reality to YLM youth leaders, and we were thrilled to share their passion for protecting nature and the environment through the year-end essays youth leaders completed as part of the program requirement.
The winner of the David Suzuki Foundation best essay contest is Shaun Shi, a young immigrant student from Shanghai, China. Shi's essay brought forward the urgent need for climate solutions.
"My hometown, Shanghai, is one of the biggest, busiest, most modern cities in China. It is on the east coast of China, and some modern architectures, are being known world-wildly. However, it is taking the risk of being¬ "swallowed" by the enormous ocean water. The sea level has risen little by little every year. This "tiny little bit" has unbelievable power, and it can make thousands of islands disappear in a moment. Japan is also an "in danger" city. I can't even imagine what would happen if such a country disappeared on the Earth. What about those people who live on the beautiful island?"
Shi is well aware of how human activities around the world have affected our climate and will have a profound effect on future generations.
"More and more CO2 is produced by the factories, and the Earth's umbrella — the atmosphere is becoming thicker and thicker. The climate is changing fast... All those problems are caused by us, by the greedy humans, so all of us have the responsibility. We are powerful, but we are not being able to be as powerful as the nature, as the Earth. We did all those things; the earth starts its revenge already. Earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes explosions... We have to change it, to save the earth, as well as us, the humans. How about the generation after us? Do they still have enough resources? Can they see the beautiful views we had seen before? Can we just leave all the unsolved problems to them? Climate is changing fast, and we have to face it, to change it, to make it a better world. We do it, not only for us, but for our children, for the nature, for the planet Earth.'
The runners-up for best essay contest are Sincere Cheong and Peter Liu.
Sincere's essay focused on the solution to lowering global greenhouse gas emissions.
"Reducing carbon emissions or GHG might sound like a topic only for scientists or politicians but there are plenty of areas that can be changed in our everyday lives...Global warming should be tackled by the global community as one. United, a solution is possible."
In his essay, which looked at the nature deficiency of modern society, Peter shared his thoughts about how young people are the engine of change for our future.
"In today's society, one's financial net worth is everything because with money, you can buy anything....But change is inevitable if the human race wants to continue to live on planet earth...I honestly believe that we need to educate the youth about being more environmentally friendly ...the possibilities of having a brighter and cleaner earth has never been close."
This year is also shaping up to be an exciting one for YLM leaders as they are being awarded the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Foundation's Greenest City Grant. The grant will help SUCCESS youth leaders work and plan to bring sustainability to their organization and community. The David Suzuki Foundation will be happy to lend a helping hand to the youth leaders in this very meaningful initiative.