Riverside Brookfield High School senior, Maiana Nelson, shares her climate story. 

Tell a story about an experience that made you aware of climate change/inspired you to be a part of climate activism. 

Ever since I was little I have been surrounded by the importance of climate action ingrained into my head. Whether it was the sadness I felt watching people pulling a straw out of a turtles nose or the optimism of hearing the thousands of chants of young people as I march through the streets of Chicago to demand climate action from representatives. This is my inspiration to fight climate change and why I work to build a healthier and sustainable planet for future generations.

What is your experience of climate change?

In my home town I experience climate change through the extreme weather events such as flooding, heat waves, and extreme colds. I have also had the opportunity to travel abroad and see places like Venice where people are having to learn to adapt and attempt to save their city from the rising sea levels. All of this contributes to how I experience climate change and to why I view it as a crisis that needs our urgent attention. 

How does going to COP play a role in your climate activism journey? 

I look forward to learning about what other youth from around the world are doing to take climate action in their communities. I want to be inspired and find new ways to encourage others to take climate action. 

What do you hope to gain from attending COP?

I hope to gain a deeper understanding of initiatives that are being taken around the world to fight the climate crisis, and to learn from them to bring action back to our nation and my community. 

What do you want world leaders to know?

I want world leaders to understand the urgency of this climate crisis and to take immediate action to reverse climate change. I want them to know that the youth of this world are speaking up and demanding action as we fear the future of our planet if steps aren’t taken immediately to fight the climate crisis.