Raleigh 4th Grader Wins 2014 Student Peacemaker Award

Hallie Turner, our youngest nominee of the annual Student Peacemaker Award to date

Hallie Turner, our youngest nominee of the annual Student Peacemaker Award to date

On September 28th, there was an earth justice march and rally held in Raleigh, organized by our youngest nominee for a NC Peace Action Student Peacemaker Award. This is her story:

My name is Hallie Turner and I am an 11 year old climate activist. What really inspired me to take action on climate change was when I read Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth. The topic of climate change had just kind of come up during dinner one night and I wanted to know more about it. What I read in Al Gore’s book scared, surprised, and most of all angered me. After researching online and reading books like his, I had learned about this huge problem that threatened everyone on Earth. Even as a 4th grader, I wanted to take action. I was most angered by the fact that the government wasn’t taking action on this huge issue. I was very eager to take action, but there didn’t seem to be anything a kid could do in their community. 

Eventually, I discovered a nationwide organization called Kids vs. Global Warming, or the iMatter Youth Council. Alec Loorz started Kids vs. Global Warming five years ago when he was just 13. iMYC is a group of youth dedicated to putting a stop to climate change. We, as the youngest generation, will inherit this Earth after the leaders of today are gone. If we trash this planet today, the children of tomorrow won’t have a planet worth inheriting. What kind of legacy is that? Being a part of iMatter was what inspired me to plan an iMatter march. Hundreds of other marches have happened all over the world, from Australia to Thailand to Brazil, with the message the same every time: We demand action on climate change. Now!

Hallie leading protest march.

Hallie leading protest march.

So I decided to plan a march in Raleigh. It turned out to be harder than I thought. I wrote op-eds and sent out emails to anyone I could think of that might want to help, also encouraging them to spread the word. Eventually we got many organizations to endorse the event, including 350.org (Boone, Triangle, and Winston Salem), League of Conservation Voters, Southern Energy Management, and NC Interfaith Power and Light. We had four planning meetings, from July to the weekend before the march. We designed and printed flyers, talked about spreading the word, and, went over the agenda and logistics again and again. NCLCV sent out hundreds of phone calls to people in Raleigh asking people to come to the march, we handed out flyers at BugFest, and a friend made a great promo video advertising the march.

Finally it was the day of the event. Even though the event started at 3:30, we got there at 1:00 to set up. When 3:30 rolled around, there was music, recycled arts and crafts with Scrap Exchange, face painting and the NC Declaration of Support For Climate Justice to sign. It was a great experience seeing all those people there because they cared about climate change. At around 4:30, we marched along the road, making noise with drums and chanting with a megaphone. We walked around the Capitol building with banners and signs and then back to Halifax Mall. It was, again, a really great experience knowing that it was me that caused all of this, if it wasn’t for me, none of this would be happening. 

The event ended with several speakers, some of them were people on the planning team, others were people active in the community or sustainable energy industry. I said a quick speech about why climate change is such an important issue, why it is equally important that we take action on it, and just thanking everyone for their support and for coming to the event. Then it was finished! 

The planning team has already met and come up with more action steps. We are brainstorming which leaders we will send the NC Declaration of Support For Climate Justice to, other events we might organize in the future, and are coming up with an article to submit to our local newspaper about the march and what iMatter Youth will do in the future. I am really happy with how the event went and hope my taking action inspires others to do the same!