By Satyana Amilca Shah Martinet
One day I was walking to my elementary school garden in Albuquerque. I am a fifth-grader and I like to draw in my sketchbook in the garden. I was preoccupied in my own thoughts when I heard a whimpering sound coming from behind the large cherry tree. As I looked around the tree, I came face to face with a little boy who looked like he was in kindergarten, I think his name was Aiden.
I recognized Aiden from the Gardening Club at school. In this club, students look after the plants, vegetables, flowers, and trees. They also do some fun learning projects in groups. Aiden was holding a notebook full of drawings of the Earth. Except the Earth was not green, blue, and white. It was a grayish color that made Earth look dead. He was a kid who was getting a lot out of this garden, I could tell. I then realized there was a tiny stream of tears coming down his face. I panicked. What do I do? Like my body had a mind of its own, I plopped myself down, right next to him. In that moment, I realized just how tall I was compared to him, he was barely over half my size
“ Are you ok?” I asked him. He nodded sadly.
“ So… why are you crying?”
He finally lifted his head out of his knees and looked me in the eyes. He took a big breath and barely in a whisper he said, “Grown-ups are stupid. They are too cowardly to handle their own problems. They should do something about climate change!”
He burst into tears. I knew that he was talking about the garden, and not wanting it to be destroyed by pollution. I stared at him for a moment. I mean, a 5-year-old is saying this. I never knew a kid his age could really understand all the things that were happening with the climate. A sudden fury hit me because this was just not fair. We need to do something about this climate change problem. This boy was not the first person that I have met that is scared of what might happen to us and the Earth. I felt so bad that he was crying.I sighed and put my arm around him as we sat there.
“You’re right,” I said, “You’re so, so right.”
Editor’s note: The attitudes and actions of young people are leading to social change that in turn must lead – the sooner, the better – to strong environmental policy change. At age 10, Satyana Amilca Shah Martinet has already found her voice as the youngest member of a family involved in organizing for social justice, environmental, and other progressive causes for seven generations.