Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Windermere students race to save the planet at the Great Climate Race

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About 50 students from Windermere Secondary raced to save their planet this year at the Great Climate Race. Photo by Jewel Dimayuga/Pooja Nair

BY CLARA SUN

We may not know what our future holds, but what we do know is that the rate at which climate change occurs depends on us. The Great Climate Race is a reminder that we can control our future, we just need to act fast.

On October 27, 2016, the second annual Great Climate Race took place. More than a thousand people of all running abilities gathered together at Stanley Park to raise awareness for climate change by completing either a or 2.5 kilometre or 10K run.

What makes this event so unique is that co-founders Ben West and Mari McMillan, both passionate environmental activists, designed it to be a zero-waste race that was more than just a run or walk.

The goal of the Great Climate Race is to spread awareness about climate change, bring together community in an encouraging and enjoyable way and fundraise for solar energy projects. Some of these projects include OrcaLabs to help make the orca research facility on northern Vancouver Island completely dependant on renewable solar power as well as a solar power project for the new Tsleil-Waututh administrative and Health Centre in North Vancouver

Our 50-member team at Stanley Park on that beautiful Sunday morning was a group of students from Windermere Secondary School. Located in the heart of East Vancouver, Windermere boasts a thriving garden, bike shop and Leadership program, amongst many other features. Vancouver is considered one of the “greenest” cities in the world, and Windermere definitely reflects that ideal.

These Windermere participants are also part of an in-school mini program called Leadership. With focuses on environmental stewardship and student growth through being active citizens, the Leadership program develops students into leaders of the present and the future. The Leadership program goes beyond school lessons to teach students, or have students discover for themselves what is going on in the community, and what they can do to help.

When the chance to attend the Great Climate Race was sprung upon us, we (the Leadership students) were brimming with excitement. Last year’s race seemed like an unbeatable event with all the smiles, encouragement and pride that was felt on the day of the race, but somehow we managed to top it.

“This is my second year running this race and it’s still an amazing experience,” said Janette Chen, a Grade 10 Leadership student. “It really brings awareness to the cause that we are fighting for and it’s a great opportunity to help out or show that you care!”

This year a Windermere team was organized by two Grade 12 students, and around 50 students raced to save their planet this year at the Great Climate Race. Prior to the race we were all preoccupied with asking for pledges and spreading the news about the event to all of our friends, families and classmates. Those who didn’t attend the event pitched in and pledged those who did, and mini-fundraising events such as bake sales took place, too.

On the day of the race there was no tension in the air. We knew that we could run competitively if we wanted to, but the Climate Race was also just an opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous sea-wall scenery and spend rare moments with friends face to face.

I went into the event unsure of whether I wanted to run or just take it easy, but I came out feeling proud that I accomplished something because I tried my best.

Propelled by the colourful posters and kind words from people I encountered while running, I ran faster and faster and started to realize what the race meant to me. To me, the race is a metaphor that we are in a race against time to save our planet, and the only people we need to beat are ourselves. We need to stop ourselves from destroying our home before it’s too late.

Right now, it’s not too late to take action. We might already be witnessing the precursors of climate change, but there are things we can do to slow down the effects of climate change. There are a multitude of things you can easily do, such as choosing electric power, starting a garden, or biking, walking, taking public transit more often instead of riding in a car. Anything, no matter how small, will make a difference. Change starts with us, and climate change ends here.

Clara Sun is a Grade 10 student in the Leadership program at Windermere Secondary.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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