Youth Continue Environmental Leadership During the Pandemic

Each year hundreds of youth volunteer with us to learn about nature and take environmental action.

Through our Frontline program, participants, called Frontliners, take part in workshops and stewardship activities to develop their leadership skills, improve the local environment and reduce the impacts of climate change in their community.

In 2019, Frontliners cleaned up the shoreline of the Credit River.

Frontliners are connectors. They share what they learn in Frontline with their peers at school and in their community. Each year we choose a different environmental issue to focus on. A smaller group of dedicated youth join the Frontline Steering Committee (FSC) to lead their peers and create activities.

Frontliners Adapt to Life in the Pandemic

When Covid-19 hit last winter, the program was put on hold. But the FSC brought forward an innovative approach to help their peers stay involved and take action at home.

The FSC introduced two at-home challenges in December and January. More than 60 youth took up the challenge to reduce plastic waste and spread awareness about the environmental impacts of microplastics.

Challenge 1 – The Waste Audit

Frontliners tracked every plastic item they used for four weeks. Collectively, they used 747 items over the challenge. The most common type of plastic was type 3 polyvinyl chloride which includes items like trays for fruit, cleaner bottles, and clear food wrap. Youth reduced their overall plastic use from 263 pieces in the first week to 195 in the fourth week. That’s a reduction of 26 per cent!

Challenge 2 – The Social Media Campaign

Frontliners shared what they learned about the negative impacts of microplastics on social media. Over four weeks, they shared more than 300 posts, mainly on Twitter and Instagram, and engaged over 13,000 people.

Students shared shocking facts on social media about the environment, like this one about microplastics.

Reflections of the At-Home Challenges

Some participating students shared what they gained from their experience:

Ashlyn, Grade 10, David Suzuki Secondary School: I really enjoyed participating in the challenges. I learned new information about microplastics and was able to apply that into my life. Being part of Frontline is a really fun way to learn new things about the environment and earn volunteer hours, so I’ll definitely be sticking with this program for a while.

Dua, Grade 11, Mississauga Secondary School: Participating in the at-home challenges was an amazing opportunity for me to learn more about the impact of microplastics in our world! Through the plastic waste audit, I was made aware of the massive amount of garbage that we make daily. I also shared this new knowledge with my friends, family and peers in the social media campaign. My participation in these challenges has impacted me positively and changed my habits when it comes to plastic consumption.

Liza, Grade 9, Brampton Centennial Secondary School: My journey with Credit Valley Conservation has been thrilling so far. I was excited to join as a Frontliner in December. I took part in both at-home challenges. I posted on social media about microplastics every day and received heartwarming feedback from my followers. I conducted a small quiz at the end of the month to see how many people learned about microplastics and the results were amazing.

Overall, I love CVC and what they’re doing. It is such a fun way to get your volunteer hours and make an effort to save the environment at the same time.

Shahana, Grade 11, Erindale Secondary School: By taking part in the waste audit challenge, I was able to visualize and determine the amount of plastic I used every day. As the challenge progressed, I found myself being more mindful and using less plastic than the weeks before. It was an important experience that really opened my eyes to how every little bit of effort counts to reduce our plastic waste.

What’s Next: Youth Can Make a Difference This Spring

This spring we’re offering the Youth 4 the Credit Stewardship program to provide teens an opportunity to restore nature in their community.

Practicing social distancing while tree planting.

Interested youth can sign up for stewardship events such as tree plantings in communities across the Credit River Watershed. CVC staff will supervise and mentor teen volunteers during events. Events will have capacity limits to ensure physical distancing and participants follow safety guidelines.

Registration opens March 4! The Youth 4 the Credit events will run from April to June and is intended for high school students. Learn more.

Note: Events and activities are subject to change based on evolving provincial and public health unit guidelines.

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