About 1,500 youths, parents, teachers and other like-minded folk joined the Hawaii Youth Climate Strike for a march and rally Friday afternoon at the state Capitol to demand more action from local legislators.
Madeline Ochs, 15, held a painted sign her mother gave her of the blue planet with orange flames.
“I feel it’s such a powerful image,” said the sophomore at the Myron B. Thompson Academy. “It doesn’t need words. Our planet is dying. We need to step up and make a change.”
Statewide, six strikes were planned as part of the Global Climate Strike, said Kawika Pegram, state lead organizer. The Honolulu group marched from Washington Place to the Capitol and then Honolulu Hale.
He said Hawaii youth are rallying in solidarity with millions around the world for the protection and restoration of biodiversity, environmental justice, the Green New Deal, respect of indigenous land and sovereignty and for sustainable agriculture.
They’re also asking Gov. David Ige to declare a statewide climate emergency, to establish a climate curriculum for schools, Meatless Monday school lunches and other initiatives. They want lawmakers to pass bills that update building codes to meet Hawaii’s renewable energy goals and phase out single-use plastics.
“I’ve been wanting to help the planet for a long time,” said Rayn Souza, 10, who is home-schooled. When she grows up, Souza plans to start a car company that only makes electric cars. “I want to save our people and our oceans.”
Trinity Cui, 17, a Campbell High School sophomore, held up her sign like she meant it. “If you don’t act like an adult, we will!”
Cui, who accompanied schoolmates and teachers to the rally, said her school “focuses on trying to stay green and to reuse everything.”
She hopes the event will make a difference. “Even if it’s just a small thing, anything is good. Even if it’s just one person who changes, that person can change others, and it’s a chain effect.”
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Ryan Price, 42, brought his two youngsters, Ella, 8, and Kainoa, 10, students at Hawaiian Mission Academy.
Kainoa held a sign of an angry polar bear holding a sign that said, “Let us now pause for a moment of science.”
And Price held a sign that said “no thank you” to plastic bags.
“I want them to know their voice matters, and even though their voices are little, combined with other voices, it can make a big difference,” he said.
Indeed, the large crowd’s united voice was loud. But the crowd quieted and listened as young people spoke from the podium. It cheered and sang in unison with Jack Johnson as he played his guitar and sang “Upside Down.”
And the lyrics spoke to the cause: “Who’s to say what’s impossible? Well, they forgot, this world keeps spinning. And with each new day I can feel a change in everything.”
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