LOGANSPORT HIGH School students, clockwise starting top left, Maddie Maloy, Nellie Walthery and Scarlett Gonzalez gather alongside their peers at the Youth Climate Strike in Indianapolis. Staff photo by Tony Walters
LOGANSPORT HIGH School students, clockwise starting top left, Maddie Maloy, Nellie Walthery and Scarlett Gonzalez gather alongside their peers at the Youth Climate Strike in Indianapolis. Staff photo by Tony Walters
INDIANAPOLIS — They came from all across the Hoosier State Friday afternoon, ending up on the steps of the Indiana Statehouse.

Holding multi-colored signs with messages like "We didn't start the fire," "There is no Planet B" and "What I stand for is what I stand on," over 100 students participated in Indiana's Youth Climate Strike — one of many similar events held throughout the country on Friday. Indiana's strike was part of the Women's March Youth Empower group.

And in the crowd Friday were five Logansport High School students who helped organize the event. 

"This whole thing started with Greta Thunberg, this girl in Sweden, who decided to strike from school to demand action on climate change," LHS senior Maddie Maloy said. "These movements have been spreading throughout Europe but the last couple of months have been spreading throughout America. So our organization thought we could organize that. We started contacting people and getting the information out. And now, we have over 20 different schools participating all over Indiana."

Maloy was one of the speakers on Friday, and she said that while students could have taken action in their own communities, there's a reason they chose the Statehouse.

"Here is where our legislative action happens," she said. "Action happens in our communities, and we need to push for that there, but here is where it happens on the state level, and I think being here is sending a message to our legislators that we do care and that we want them to enact laws and create change concerning the climate crisis."

Classmate Nellie Walthery agreed with Maloy, saying that she believes climate change is a real issue that will have real consequences.

"I guess I’m here because it’s something I feel very passionate about," the 16-year-old said. "I’m living the rest of my life on this earth, and I just feel that a lot of decisions are being made by a lot of people a lot older than me. I don’t always have the easy way to provide input, so I think doing it this way brings attention to something that just gets pushed to the side a lot in favor of some other headline. Just to see it not be taken seriously, it kind of hurts."

And while the students said they have faced backlash for their beliefs, they still feel convicted in their views, LHS senior Scarlett Gonzalez explained.

"I think the youth is always pushed back a lot," she said. "As a society, we like to silence our youth. But with us doing so many movements and taking on so many causes, I think it proves that we’re not going anywhere. We’re not going to be silenced, and we’re going to prove to you that this is a serious issue. We’re going to give you the facts and let you know where it is that we’re coming from. It might not convince the people who disagree with us, but it’ll show that we care about it. And hopefully they might start to listen to it too."

One legislator that has listened to the students is Ind. Rep. Carey Hamilton, D-Indianapolis.

Hamilton spoke to the students Friday afternoon, offering them encouragement.

"I think the youth in our country the past couple of years have shown that they have a really powerful voice, and they’re willing to use it," she said. They’re good communicators, good organizers and they’re making a difference in our country. I think they can grow that voice and have an impact on our statehouse too."

Hamilton went on to state that Indiana has a manufacturing sector that will grow with clean energy manufacturing, but policies right now are not embracing that option. 

"We need to marry both, attracting that clean energy to policies that promote installing clean energy in our state. And that will have a huge impact on climate while also stimulating our economy," she said.

Because, as those students in attendance stated, it's about protecting the future.

"Yes, we’re minors, but it doesn’t mean our views shouldn’t be taken seriously," Walthery said. "We’re taken seriously in so many other things. We’re making important life decisions like going to college and making financial decisions that will affect us the rest of our lives. So yeah, we’re kids, but we’re getting people to pay attention. That’s what this is about. It’s to draw more attention to an issue. You don’t always have to change the world in big ways. Little things can also make a difference."

Gonzalez agreed.

"I think if you just think about it, climate change is something that will affect children in the future," she said. "It will determine whether they’re allowed to see certain animals or whether they get to go to certain places. That’s important. That’s their future. And since some older adults are not taking it seriously or using the power they currently have by voting or going out and speaking with their legislators, the youth have taken it upon ourselves to do it."

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