December 15, 2017
On December 7, 2017, the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Green Creation Crew (GCC) brought awareness to environmental and social justice issues through a youth-led showcase and forum. Participating youth shared why these issues are important and presented their own solutions.
Green Creation Crew is a teen program at the Crown Family YMCA Center, funded in part by After School Matters, where youth from around the city learn about local agriculture and sustainability, then develop and execute environmental efficiency plans. This fall, 15 teens participated in GCC.
At the showcase, GCC instructor Amelia Evans spoke about the topics they covered this fall session. Some of the topics included environmental identity, harvesting and gardening basics, green spaces, healing gardens, environmental and social justice and more. Throughout the session, the youth went on field trips to the Glencoe Community Garden, Bobolink Bird Sanctuary, UIC Latino Cultural Center, and Shedd Aquarium. They participated in hands-on activities like the Ping Tom Memorial Park Clean Up, Seed Collection GLAD Action Days, a river cleanup through the Shedd Aquarium, and a sensory scavenger nature walk. Another big project GCC worked on together was creating a season extender to protect one of their garden beds from weather extremes at the start and end of the growing season. This fall, they chose to build a tomato tent.
Over the course of the session, GCC members worked in five teams, each of which chose an issue that is important to them and developed a solution. One team focused on energy conservation and suggested carpooling and using renewable energy as alternatives. Another team brought attention to the abundance of food desserts and how to alleviate their effects through community gardens and local farmers markets. Other topics included the Paris Agreement and the recent earthquakes in Mexico.
“Don’t ever forget how important it is to take care of ourselves and the environment. Remember, you can make all the difference!” Amelia says.