Young climate activists hold Earth Day rally in Chicago

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This Earth Day, Chicago-area students shared their commitment to the environment — hoping to inspire others along the way.

On Friday, a group of high school students held a rally in Federal Plaza to voice their concerns about climate change and call for environmental justice in schools.

“It all starts with you, it’s a passion for it and it’s wanting to help everyone,” said Paradise Banks, a freshman at Al Raby High School.

“I know we are all here today because we affirm the law and the legacy of environmental justice,” said Jasmine Jones, a teacher at Al Raby High School.

The group of students and teachers are leading the charge when it comes to protecting our environment.

“Everyone needs to help out,” Banks said. “So we can have a healthy community for our future generations.

Banks and Jones are involved in a project to install solar panels in the western part of town.

“We work through the Illinois Solar for All program because Garfield Park is an environmental justice community, so we are proposing the installation of a photovoltaic system at Garfield Park Conservatory,” Jones said.

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Jones teaches physics, biology and environmental science at Al Raby High School and is passionate about addressing environmental health disparities.

It’s Friday attendance for cleaner air and safe spaces in all schools to encourage and create healthy environments where everyone can thrive.

“Redo the HVAC systems, make sure there is no lead in the water of the schools on the south and west sides, make sure there is no asbestos in the walls of these schools, working on vehicle electrification, building solarization,” said Jelena Collins, a senior student at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Those working to bring solar panels to Garfield Park Conservatory said they will submit their plans this spring and hope to get approval this summer. If the project is approved, installation could begin as early as the fall.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools released its climate action plan on Friday — the first of its kind for the district. It presents an energy and sustainable plan for 2021-2023.

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