By Winnie Hwo, Public Engagement Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

It's gratifying to see third and fifth graders share their desire to be guardians of Earth. At the fourth REaDY Summit at Hugh Boyd Secondary in Richmond on April 18, third grader Lyrra Guelos, fifth graders Isha Kapoor and Theresa Mah and ninth grader Hailey Lai shared their winning speeches with teachers, parents and students on why protecting the planet means protecting their future. (REaDY stands for Richmond Earth Day Youth Summit.)

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Isha Kapoor, from Walter Lee Elementary, said, "My dream is to be an actress, and lots of others kids have dreams too. But our dreams can't happen if we don't have a healthy planet."

Theresa Mah, from Jessie Wowk Elementary, was the first REaDY speech contest winner four years ago, and she returned this year with another winning speech. "We can nurse Mother Earth back to life with every step we take. Round up your buddies and have a tree-planting day. Join in on your family beach day and pick up as many pieces of litter as you can. One step towards healing our planet will alter our future."

image_one.jpg Left: REaDY Summit 2015 keynote speakers — Veronica Bylicki and Tesicca Troung. Top right: Isha Kapoor. Bottom Right: Theresa Mah

According to Hayley Lai from J.N. Burnett Secondary, we must do our part to ensure everyone plays a role to keep our planet in good shape. "I can't blame others for what they do that impacts our planet because most of us are responsible. Most importantly, we are one. We must work together to save our precious resources before it is too late."

Since its inception four years ago, REaDY's keynote speakers have been accomplished adults, including David Suzuki Foundation CEO Peter Robinson, environmental broadcaster Sarika Cullis-Suzuki and David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. This year was different. REaDY was kicked off by the four young speech contest winners and wrapped by keynote speeches from three older youth, Alice Xu, Tesicca Troung and Veronica Bylicki. The theme was Plan Our Future. REaDY, set go! And boy, did they plan.

First time MCs, Grade 11 student Janelle Wong and Grade 12 student Janice Ho, totally rocked, as did the fabulous Green Ambassadors, who hosted the half-day event.

The fourth REaDY Summit was about youth empowering youth. If last year was about passing the torch, the young people who came to Hugh Boyd Secondary from six school districts in Metro Vancouver definitely took their responsibility to the planet and their future seriously. Here are some encouraging words that David Suzuki Foundation Queen of Green Lindsay Coulter shared at the opening of the summit.

image_2.jpgTop left: Janelle Wong and Hayley Lai. Bottom left: Janice Ho, Janelle Wong and Lyrra Guelos. Right: Lindsay Coulter — David Suzuki's Queen of Green

"There is no 'one path' to making a difference. Everyone doesn't have to do exactly the same thing. It takes courage to make change and guide others towards change. But when you lead — share your knowledge and experience — you're making the choice not to shrink from responsibility."

Coulter went on to give the following five tips on how to make a difference.

  1. Stop and listen (instead of arguing or persuading).
  2. Surround yourself with others who care. (Like we are today.)
  3. Recognize that everyone has a unique role to play.
  4. Give others the space to experience and share what they are feeling.
  5. Don't be a judgey pants.

The event was also covered by local media including the Richmond News, Richmond Review and Fairchild Television.

April 29, 2015

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1 Comment

Jun 01, 2015
12:24 PM

Young people see the world quite differently, and need to find a way to have hope. It is quite a concern how many older people look at the future we are heading for and shrug and say "oh well, I wont be here"!
Fortunately not everyone thinks this way, which is why some people are taking the initiative to find new ways of living that are good for people and the planet. is one great example of creating both hope and a new reality for the future.

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