Shawnee Mission students were among the millions of young people across the globe to take part in Friday’s Global Climate Strike, which environmental groups say was likely the largest climate advocacy event in history.
At 11 a.m. Friday, a group of around 70 students convened on the lawn outside SM West, where student leaders made a series of remarks lobbying for increased awareness and action on climate issues. After the gathering at SM West, some students left school grounds to attend a metro-wide rally organized by Sunrise Movement KC on the UMKC campus. Sunrise organizers say 750 people attended that event. Students who left campus during the day for the morning rally at UMKC were given unexcused absences. Organizers say dozens more SM West students attended an evening rally in Kansas City, Mo., that was held after school hours.
Lucia Marquez-Uppman, a member of the school’s environmental club and one of the students who spoke at the gathering outside SM West, said organizers started discussing the walkout at SM West just days before the event.
Brenda Garcia, another student organizer, said they had been inspired by the message of young Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
“We are the youth,” Garcia said. “We want to live in a future where don’t always have to be on the lookout for fossil fuels running out or pollution becoming so bad we can’t breathe.”
Brogan Thomas, another of the student organizers at SM West, said they hoped to see growing consensus about the importance of climate issues across the political spectrum.
“There is a lot of bickering over something that really shouldn’t be bickered over,” Thomas said. “It should not be a partisan issue. It’s a human issue.”