CVMS student becomes climate activist
Like many young people, Bridget Czarnecki is worried about the future. She would read stories about the drastic impact climate change will have – is already having – on the world and lie awake at night wondering what she could do.
Finally, she decided to get involved and make a positive change in her community – something she hopes will be a global trend led by people her age and older.
Czarnecki, an eighth grade student at Chehalem Valley Middle School, is a climate activist aiming to make a difference in Newberg. She recently presented a climate resolution to the Newberg School District alongside one of her classmates, led a climate march to city hall and has sought to influence recent decisions by the Newberg City Council.
"I talked to my friends about these ideas, but nobody really supported me and nobody thought it was going to work," she said. "I felt kind of alone until like 60 people showed up for the march and a bunch of people signed the petition. There are people who care a lot about this issue."
One of those people is Czarnecki's mom, Meghan, who helped her daughter organize the march and formulate her proposals to the city and school district. It's been Bridget Czarnecki's effort from the beginning, though, and her work is gaining some traction locally.
The council has been receptive of her proposals and commended her for her activism on an important issue, she said. As a result of her proposal and the demands of her cohorts who marched on city hall, the council decided that the city will join ICLEI – a group of local governments focused on sustainability – and will conduct an energy audit to determine how it can better address the issue.
Bridget has a number of ideas she thinks the Newberg School District should adopt as well.
"The education and transportation pieces are huge with our climate resolution," she said. "We are encouraging the district to look into ways to be more sustainable and also potentially add electric school buses to reduce their carbon footprint. We also want to encourage students to take the bus or walk to school because that will help as well."
The young Czarnecki's passion for the issue is evident. She said that every day during lunch, she would see her classmates use school-provided Styrofoam trays and just throw them in the trash. This – among other practices by local entities that aren't sustainable – "infuriated" her and she knew she had to affect change one way or another.
Through her work with the council and presentations to the school district, she is already doing more than many adults in their day-to-day lives.
Bridget also attends meetings for the newly formed Sustainable Solutions Group, a group formed to find ways for Newberg to become more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint. She and others in the group of mostly adults have brainstormed other ways for the community to improve its efforts.
While she has plenty of local adults to look up to, Bridget said she is also inspired by global climate activists like Greta Thunberg – a 16-year-old Swedish girl who has gained international recognition for her activism and moving speeches.
"Greta is a huge inspiration to me and her United Nations speech was amazing," Czarnecki said. "But my biggest inspiration is normal people who fight for this every day, go to marches and get involved. A lot of people feel like they don't have the power to deal with this issue, but if we unite together we can make a difference."
Get photos with Santa
Children in the Chehalem Valley can get their photo taken with the big guy in the red suit this December. Santa Claus will be at the Dundee Fire Station on Dec. 7 for the 22nd consecutive year, providing an opportunity for kids to share what they want for Christmas and get a picture with him. Santa will be at the station from 9:30 to 10 a.m. for children with special needs and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for all other kids.
Workshop for adults on youth mental health
The Newberg School District will host an eight-hour workshop for adults in December to help them address youth mental health. The mental health first-aid workshop is designed to help adults identify when a young person is experiencing a mental health crisis, what to do about it and how best to meet their needs in those situations.
Mental health first-aid training also aims to help adults – be they parents, teachers or otherwise – learn how to help people living with depression, anxiety, stress or substance abuse issues. The workshop runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 14 at the district offices on Sixth Street and lunch will be provided. For more information or to register, call Zuri Lopez at 503-309-9635.
Library hosts craft sale
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.