Photo: Join us at REaDY Summit 2014 and celebrate the Fraser River

Richmond students in REaDY Summit 2014 Speech Contest (credit Richmond School District.)

By Winnie Hwo, Public Engagement Specialist

What do these children have in common? They are all contestants in the REaDY Summit 2014 Speech Contest, and they can't wait to share their passion for the Fraser River with David Suzuki, who will join the this year's Richmond Earth Day Youth (REaDY) Summit in Richmond, B.C. as keynote speaker.

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Richmond elementary, intermediate and secondary school students were invited to enter the speech contest by writing a short essay answering this question, "What does Fraser River mean to you?" The summit's theme this year is "We are the Fraser, n ʔmat ct, we are one."

Nineteen students participated in the two-hour contest last month in Richmond City Council Chambers. It was clear that they are not only knowledgeable about the Fraser River, but are also passionate about the longest river in British Columbia, which nurtures 2.4 million people, including those in their own community!

"We are the Fraser because everything is connected! We have a responsibility to not pollute because while we have a home and a life; so should the salmon and the wildlife," Jasleen Deowra said.

"We must save the river so that the generations to come can enjoy the Fraser as much we do now," Anjali Menon said.

"The river has given us everything; what have we done for it? It is time for us to step out and step up for the river, the river that runs within us," Benny Pan told fellow contestants and judges.

Winners of the speech contest will share their essays with David Suzuki and the audience at REaDY Summit on April 26 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at R.A. McMath Secondary School, 4251 Gary Street, Steveston. Some of them will even get a chance to ask David Suzuki what they can do to help the environment.

Click here to register.

Our Queen of Green, Lindsay Coulter, is also inviting participants to bring small unwanted household appliances and spent light bulbs as part of her initiative to keep e-waste away from our landfills and waterways.

Parents and students who want to learn how to co-create a city that is livable and healthy for children should check out the Cities for Kids workshop, hosted by the David Suzuki Foundation's Right to a Healthy Environment project lead Alaya Boisvert and environmental economist Michelle Molnar. Foodies with sustainability in mind will no doubt sign up for acclaimed seafood chef Ian Lai's fish taco cooking demonstration. If you want to explore the connection between your life and the place you live, sign up for well-known paleontologist Scott Sampson's Sense of Story, Sense of Place workshop.

These are just a few highlights of the 15 workshops offered at the summit.

Since 2012, the David Suzuki Foundation has partnered with Richmond City and School District to help student Green Ambassadors co-produce the annual half- day event. The goal is to jump-start community involvement by sharing green ideas through inspiring speakers and interactive workshops for students and adults. With our newest partner, the Musqueam First Nation, and this year's keynote, David Suzuki, participants will have a great opportunity to learn how we are all connected and interdependent.

So, what can participants do for the REaDY Summit? For a start, you can help keep the event low-impact. Our goal is 76 per cent waste diversion with plastic and organic waste recycling. For example, name badges for organizers and workshop hosts will be handmade from salvaged wood. Participants should bring their own water bottles. Taking public transit, biking or walking to the event is also encouraged. Our special thanks to Translink for providing an extra bus to bring participants from Brighouse station to the event and back. We are also grateful to Kwantlen University, Surrey Campus, for providing a live webcast of David Suzuki's keynote and dialogue with students.

April 7, 2014

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