Students participate in Chicago Youth Climate Strike


Claire Williams, Copy Editor

As Molly O’Donnell ‘20 stepped off the train at Union Station, she couldn’t help noticing all the people carrying posters. She held one of her own, expressing a similar sentiment to the others she saw: the urgent need to fight climate change. 

O’Donnell, along with thousands of others, marched from Grant Park to Federal Plaza on Friday, Sept. 20. The Chicago Youth Climate Strike was part of the Global Climate Strike in which over 150 countries demanded that more action be taken to fight the effects of climate change. 

Most participants of the strike missed school or work to attend.

“Missing school was the whole statement of it,” O’Donnell said. “The girl [Greta Thunberg] who first did it it was on a school strike. We are making a statement that we are not at school because we are taking action on this.”

Greta Thunberg is a Swedish climate activist who began striking from school every Friday in a movement called Fridays for Future, according to the New York Times. She was a major leader in the Global Climate Strike and spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which began the day after the Chicago Youth Climate Strike.

“[The strike] was showing the UN that all the kids and teenagers around the world wanted them to do something about [climate change] because it’s our future,” Rory Quealey ‘22 said.

The strike was scheduled to begin at approximately 11:00 am. Before the march, organizers spoke in Grant Park at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Roosevelt.

“I really liked how a lot of [the speakers] brought up the importance of environmental justice everywhere,” Olivia Grefenstette ‘23 said. “I think in lower income communities and ethnically diverse communities [the effects of climate change] are definitely overlooked, so it was really cool to have so many voices represented.”

While the organizers of the strike were primarily teenagers, the ages of participants ranged from preschool-aged to seniors. 

“Climate change is an issue that can seem political, but it affects everyone and even younger kids are acknowledging its [importance] too,” Quealey said. 

Throughout the march, people chanted different slogans, such as “the youth united will never be divided.” At one point, two young girls began chanting “Save the animals. Save the Earth.” After receiving a megaphone from a fellow marcher, the girl’s chant was echoed by the crowds around them. 

“It’s what’s going to affect our generation more than any others,” O’Donnell said. “It’s especially going to affect the generations after us so we have to do something to stop it now. We only have 11  am. years to reverse the effects.”