#IWill week is an opportunity to celebrate youth social action, and this year it forms a part of our Year of Green Action campaign. To celebrate #IWill week 2019 we wanted to hear from young people in Kent how they have taken action to protect the natural environment.
We asked Poppy Mansfield Jones, 17, a member of Kent Youth County Council, to share her story.
My name is Poppy Mansfield Jones, I am 17 – a member of the UK Youth Parliament and the Kent Youth County Council. I personally became acutely aware of environmental issues during the 2016 USA presidential campaign, aged 13. Learning of Donald Trump’s climate change denial caused me to look further into his argument – and ways I could debunk his opinions!
Through my 13-year old internet research, I became frustrated at the lack of action I felt I could make on climate change as an individual. Eventually, however, I began to make some key decisions about my purpose and use within this environmental crisis. As a fourteen-year-old I became vegetarian, I joined debating societies and argued over the mismanagement of waste – which eventually led me to start an eco-society at my school and replace all plastic in our canteen with compostables. As a young person – unable to drive – I began to see infrastructural issues local to Canterbury – a lack of safe cycling. As a young cyclist, I was always left feeling afraid and nervous to cycle around my city due to the lack of cycle paths.
I started to get involved in student strikes – encouraging others to do the same. There are many ways we can cause change as young people – yet I continue to feel that, whilst projects are built with ‘road contracts’ (where contractors agree to fund new road routes) rather than ‘cycle contracts’ or ‘bus contracts’ that we will fall further short of our environmental policies. I am 17, and I own a bike over a car. I hope that one-day governments prioritise bikes, pedestrians and public transport use over unsustainable modes of transport. Until then, however, we must continue to lobby those in power, utilise public transport, and support eco-friendly policies.