Keynote speaker Sarika Cullis-Suzuki

More than 1,000 high school students across 14 school boards in Ontario heard words of encouragement and inspiration on becoming the next generation of environmentally-active citizens during Change Your World (CYW) 2017, an event hosted by York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES). The event, held April 6 at the Keele campus, had the largest turnout to date, and headlined April’s Earth Month festivities at York.

Alternatives Journal (A\J) was very proud to be part of the event, delivering a workshop titled HOW TO TELL A STORY (EFFECTIVELY) to packed classrooms throughout the day. “It was invigorating and inspiring to be surrounded by young and impassioned future change-agents eagerly seeking the tools to help make their world a better place,” said A\J Publisher, David McConnachie. “The event itself was well-organized and well-managed, with the high school students getting a chance to experience a big-league environmental celebration AND also having a ‘sneak peek’ chance to experience post-secondary life.”

The first Change Your World conference was held on February 23, 2003.  The idea for a high school environmental and educational conference was born from the York Environmental Education Consortium (YEEC).  The first conference was a great success with over 200 students participating and 10 workshops for the students to participate in.

York University’s FES Dean Noël Sturgeon introduced the event’s keynote speaker Sarika Cullis-Suzuki, an environmental activist, marine biologist and board member of the David Suzuki Foundation. Cullis-Suzuki spoke to the packed house, and challenged the group to find their own individual ways to make an impact in their everyday lives and to look for ways to “come together” to make change. She offered a reminder to simply “get started.”

“Change Your World inspires high school students to imagine themselves as active agents in a world full of challenges,” Sturgeon said. “For these students, experiencing York and FES as a source of this inspiration is wonderful to see. I am particularly proud of all our alumni and community partners who organized workshops for the students and their teachers.”

Students at a social justice workshop

Workshops were offered by community organizations including A\J, the Toronto Zoo, Sustainable Youth Canada, Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, TREC Education, Taking It Global, and many more. With a goal to inspire and educate high schools students and their teachers to act sustainably and equitably in their everyday lives in over to make positive change in our world, it is safe to assume that this year’s attendees left York’s campus with their heads full of ideas and extra motivation.

“We would absolutely love to participate again in the future,” said McConnachie. “For A\J, we’re a media charity focused on helping to empower environmental education. Getting a chance to join with the team from York FES to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards resonates strongly with our core beliefs and gives us a chance to be equally inspired by the students themselves. They’ve got fresh eyes and new approaches, and our world will be better when they have the tools to make positive change happen.”


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