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Personal and Community Climate Actions and Becoming a Climate Activist

Getting Started (10-15 min)

Welcome to Session 5 of the “Climate Is Health” series. This week we are focused on how individuals and communities can take action and become climate activists. Our Guest Speaker is Raj Mundra, who is the Dean of Studies, a biology teacher, and the Director of the Niswarth (Hindi for “not for self”) program at Phillips Academy Andover. Raj is joined this week by three of his students who share their passions for taking climate action, Salvador Gómez-Colón, Claire Brady, and Eli Newell. 

Key concepts this week include youth empowerment, sustainable actions, and climate activism.

 💡 If you have time, take a moment to reflect before starting with the session and answer the following questions in a notebook:

  1. Have you ever taken action to protect something that you care about? 
  2. Do you feel it is important for you to take action in response to climate change?
  3. What specifically concerns you about climate change on our planet? Why?
  4. What do you think it means to be a climate activist?

Guest Speaker (13 min)

Raj Mundra,
Phillips Academy Andover

Featured Student Speakers

Salvador Gómez-Colón
11th grade
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Light and Hope

Claire Brady
12th grade
Portland, Maine
EcoAction Club

Eli Newell
12th grade
Lincoln, Massachusetts
Ambassadors for Climate Curriculum

Explore in Depth (10-30 min) 

A global framework to equip young people to build empathy, brainstorm ideas, implement solutions, and inspire others as they become agents of change.

Stories of emerging leaders cooking up the boldest, most innovative solutions to save this here planet. 

Around the world, young people are mobilizing by the hundreds of thousands to demand greater action on climate change. 

American youth climate activists have given themselves an 11-year deadline. 

The world needs leadership on climate change and young people are stepping up to the challenge! Learn how young people, together with the UN system, are playing a key role both in the intergovernmental climate change negotiations and in their communities – helping all of us change the way we live and do business.

Kids, it’s time to give your parents ‘the talk.’ Not that one, the one on climate change. 

From the streets to the halls of Congress, young activists are fighting to bring attention to climate change and demanding those in power take notice. 

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted climate activists to abandon public demonstrations, one of their most powerful tools for raising public awareness, and shift to online protests. 

Reflect and Discuss (10-30 min)

    1. What examples of climate activism have you personally experienced in your life? Did a particular kind of action resonate with you? Why or why not?
    2. What are your strengths, interests, and available resources and how could these be applied toward climate action? 
    3. After exploring these resources, what do you think are the biggest climate and health needs in your community and what opportunities do you have to engage with these needs?

Case Study (60 min)

Our Campaign to Ban Plastic Bags in Bali | Melati and Isabel Wijsen (TED)

How Teenage Sisters Pushed Bali to Say ‘Bye-Bye’ to Plastic Bags (NPR)

Bye Bye Plastic Bags Website

Explore what makes the above campaign a successful example of youth-led climate activism.

    • What inspires you about this story? 
    • What allowed them to be successful? 
    • What challenges were faced and overcome in this project? 
    • What connections does this example have to your own community? 
    • What questions do you have?
    • Argument: In 2019, the government-mandated plastic bag ban went into effect on Bali. However, reports show that many residents and businesses are ignoring it. Government mandates are not effective.
      • Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Whether you personally agree or disagree, how would you refute it? 

Take Action (30-60 min)

  • Using everything that you have learned over the course of these five sessions, start to develop your own Climate Action Plan. 

What is a Climate Action Plan (CAP)?

A climate action plan is a roadmap for taking action to help protect our climate and therefore our health.

Can I work as a part of a team?

We need everyone involved in climate action! Often, interdisciplinary and diverse teams are the most successful at creating meaningful change. Depending on your individual and community needs, you can either choose to develop a climate action plan on a personal level focused on what actions you as an individual want to do or in a small group of students focused on working together to positively impact your community. We recommend only working as a group if you can successfully carry out your project ideas as a community moving forward.

How do I create a CAP?

We have createdtoolkit with Design for Change to help you create your Climate Action Plan. It is important to know that there are no correct answers when making your plan. There are many different ways to address climate change and all of them are important. We will make the most significant change as a collective if we allow diverse ideas and actions to thrive simultaneously. The most important thing to keep in mind when developing your Climate Action Plan is to focus on something that interests you and impacts your local community.  Reflect on what resources are available to you, what sources of support you have or you can create, and ways that you can keep your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound (SMART). Ask yourself, “What would it look like if this plan or project was completely successful?” and work from there. 

Have fun, be creative, support and uplift each other, and make sure to share your ideas with us  so that we can celebrate all of your hard work and post your stories!


This is the last of our official sessions. We hope that this is the start of something much bigger for you and your community, as you respond to climate and health needs by taking action with the knowledge and inspiration you have gained throughout this series. 

Don’t forget to post your ideas and learning journeys on social media with the tag #climateishealth and @HarvardCCHANGE, and email with any questions you have. 

Download full content PDF – Climate Is Health – Session 5

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