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Young People Are Fighting for a Better Tomorrow

Steven, Kelsey, Lauren, Sophia, and David are just a few of the almost 50,000 changemakers that have engaged and participated in Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings. Will you join them?

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By Ryan Zimmer, Global Youth Intern

In today’s fight against climate change, we need leaders.

At Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings, people of all ages, backgrounds, and professions gather for climate action, education, and training. Former Vice President Al Gore and an all-star team of experts, communicators, and advocates lead educational and skill-building sessions dedicated to providing attendees with the knowledge and network to fight for a better tomorrow.

The trainings also provide a great opportunity for youth voices to get involved and be heard in the fight for our climate. At each training, young changemakers from the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community join. This network of innovators under the age of 30 includes over 11,000 members worldwide, operating 501 hubs in 152 countries.

Find out more about some Global Shapers climate projects and their partnership with Climate Reality here.

Many Global Shapers are familiar with climate change issues and work on innovative climate projects in their communities. For other hub members, Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings are their introduction to environmental advocacy.

Steven Guo, Pittsburgh Hub

Steven Guo joined the Global Shapers hub in Pittsburgh in 2021, hoping to find a community of global citizens working on local issues.

Initially, as a young professional in healthcare, Steven didn't see himself fitting the typical profile of a climate activist. Since he had an interest in the intersections between health and climate, however, he decided to sign up for Climate Reality’s Leadership Corps training in Las Vegas in 2022.

The ability to engage with various climate presentations, panels, breakout sessions, and thematic discussions was new, exciting, and informative for him. Something that stuck with him from the presentations was the idea that if we design a system dedicated to helping the most vulnerable, everyone benefits. Being intentional about this is something that Steven hopes to uphold in work with his Global Shapers hub and in his healthcare career.

For other youth attending Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings, his advice is to find peers and to leverage your excitement and enthusiasm in a way that builds coalitions. Figure out who the champions are that can help to shape your own action, whether it’s implementing a local climate policy or convincing a local business to be more eco-friendly.

Kelsey Irvine, Lancaster Hub

On the other side of Pennsylvania from Steven and the Shapers Pittsburgh Hub, Kelsey Irvine is the former vice curator and current member of the Lancaster Global Shapers Hub.

For Kelsey, who participated in a virtual Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in 2023 before entering a professional role in climate, the training was especially helpful.  Picking up climate change basics and learning about upcoming climate programming and policies helped her to hit the ground running in her career and as a leader at the Global Shapers hub in Lancaster. She is grateful to be surrounded by fellow hub members who are passionate about climate action, particularly as strong active transit activists.

When offering advice for other young people going to Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings, Kelsey stressed the idea of being engaged and actively learning but not feeling the absolute need to take everything in on the first go – the resources are always there and there are regular opportunities to move forward. 

An important takeaway for these trainings and for life in the climate fight is to “make a commitment to keep learning,” Kelsey says.

As for the Lancaster Global Shapers hub, their climate action continues. One of their current projects is called Ride, Roll, and Stroll. The project is in its second year of operation and promotes active public transit use in the city. Kelsey is looking forward to its continued success and increasing community partnership.

Lauren Shum, Boston Hub

Lauren Shum has spent most of her life and career working on climate change and sustainability challenges. She comes from a diverse professional background, including electrical engineering, manufacturing, government programs, and policy, and she attended the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Houston to expand her climate impact by learning about the world of activism. 

 A memorable part of the 2022 Houston training for Lauren was the opportunity to join in a “toxic tour” with a local Houston-based organization called t.e.j.a.s. alongside Vice President Gore. Participants were taken to a community that had suffered serious chemical spills and continued to experience elevated levels of carcinogens in their air and soil. The injustice of this stuck with Lauren.

“Fence-line communities often get discussed in the abstract when we consider the environmental justice implications of technology and policy,” Lauren said. “Climate Reality brings these perspectives front and center. You can't design appropriate climate solutions without accounting for impacts to the most vulnerable.”

Lauren took lessons from the tour back to Boston, where she encouraged her hub to find communities most affected by climate change, meet people to understand their needs, and respect their time by making sure the hub provides value in return.

Sophia Laettner, Jacksonville Hub

After attending Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Houston, Sophia Laettner was also inspired to bring what she learned back to her local community. Her Global Shapers hub started working on a project called “Climate Conversations.” They now engage in supportive and solution-oriented workshops on climate change for the Jacksonville area.

David Galaviz, Dallas Hub

David Galaviz, who didn't have a climate-related background before the Houston training, approached the event with an open mind. He found the personable aspect of connecting with fellow Global Shapers, climate leaders, and other youth to be inspiring and useful for his own professional work.

He is planning to attend the upcoming Climate Reality Leadership Corps in New York City and is looking forward to bringing other members of his Shapers hub with him.

Get Involved

Steven, Kelsey, Lauren, Sophia, and David are just a few examples of the almost 50,000 changemakers that have engaged and participated in Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings.

Interested in joining this vast network of climate advocates? Join Climate Reality for its next Leadership Corps training in New York City on April 12-14 to gain the skills, knowledge and network to support a better, more sustainable future for your community and communities just like it all around the world.

Learn more here.