Youth Challenge International (YCI) is an organization focused on empowering young people interested in social and environmental justice issues through programs like climate action catalysts. The program consists of the development of a project that causes an impact on climate change in a period of 8 months within designated teams. Three months ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw a post with a caption that said: “Climate Action Catalysts had their first virtual training session! We’re thrilled to welcome this group of 100+ young people to our Climate Action Network and can’t wait to see how they’ll tackle climate issues across the GTHA.” Youth Challenge International, Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/yci_org/
I had no clue what a climate action catalyst was, so I did some research and found out if I volunteered in their climate action program, I would get my 40 volunteer hours. I applied to the program by sending a short video answering all the questions in their volunteer form and I got in. I joined this program only thinking about the volunteer hours, but I didn’t know that it would also have an impact on our environment, community, and help me strengthen my personal skills.
Each team is assigned a specific focus, for example, my team’s focus is reducing waste in condos and apartments in Toronto by providing resources, and raising consciousness about this issue. For three months you participate in two-hour training sessions one day every week, facilitated by YCI’s team as well as Evergreen’s team, another environment-focused organization. In these zoom calls, you work on communication, creativity, and project management skills that will not only be useful for the project but for high school and beyond. Additionally, you will have weekly meetings with your team to brainstorm ideas for your project and get to know each other better as well. Once the project is completed after the 8 months of developing it, there is a Climate Action Catalyst Summit event that takes place in February, where all the teams get to launch and present their projects (whether it is an app, a website, workshops to raise awareness, etc.)
Although it might seem intimidating, there are many volunteers who are 16-18 years old and are still in high school. You won’t be alone, and you’ll be mentored throughout the process.
If you have any questions about YCI’s climate action catalyst program you can dm me on Instagram (@sofi.guzman18) or visit the website below and check the most frequently asked questions at the bottom: https://www.yci.org/InnovateMYFuture/program