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Meet Climate Activist Alexandria Villaseñor

Learning

Meet Earth Uprising founder Alexandria Villaseñor—a young woman leader working to protect the Earth for future generations.

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American Girl’s 2021 Girl of the Year, Kira Bailey, is committed to protecting animals and the environment. In Kira’s second book, Kira’s Animal Rescue, and the companion advice book Love the Earth, American Girl profiled several changemakers who are leading the fight against climate change. A young activist featured in both books is Alexandria Villaseñor. At age 14, she founded Earth Uprising, a global, youth-led nonprofit organization focused on climate education, climate advocacy, and youth mobilization.

We talked with Alexandria about her important role in the climate change movement and how she’s empowering others to raise their voices and take a stand for the planet.

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Q. Can you tell us about Earth Uprising and why you started it? What is its mission?

A. After being on climate strike for 18 months, and also organizing four global climate strikes with activists from around the world, I realized that the number one reason why more youth weren’t getting involved was because they weren’t educated about climate change. I also realized that we didn’t have the time to change all of our educational systems—we need youth to take action and educate each other on the climate crisis right now! So that’s why I founded Earth Uprising, to first educate youth peer to peer about the climate crisis, and then empower them to take direct action for their futures.

Q. How did you become a climate change activist?

A. In November of 2018, I was visiting family in Northern California when the Camp Fire broke out, devastating the town of Paradise, CA. At the time, it was the worst wildfire in California history. It covered our area with thick smoke for days, making me very ill due to my asthma. I ended my family visit early and left the area for the safety of my lungs. When I returned to New York City, I researched how California’s wildfires were being made worse because of climate change. The climate crisis is causing wildfires to burn faster, hotter, and for much longer than ever before. While researching, I watched Greta Thunberg speak at COP24, and she inspired me to take action on the climate crisis. So on December 14, 2018 I began my climate strike in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, in solidarity with Greta and the Fridays for Future movement. Over the next 18 months, I organized global climate strikes alongside youth activists from all around the world, and on April 22, 2019, I launched Earth Uprising International, the youth-led climate education movement.

Q. What initiatives does Earth Uprising have in the works for 2021?

A. This fall, our youth-led curriculum design team is excited to be launching “Earth Uprising Schooled.” This is our peer to peer climate education program. This climate change curriculum goes much further than the science of climate change. We will be learning about historical social movements that made change, and how social and racial justice are also environmental justice, as well as the economics and solutions to the climate crisis. We like to call it “climate education 2.0”! The goal for this program is to empower and support young people in taking action and making change for their own future. Earth Uprising Schooled will teach young people how to take action locally and globally.

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Q. What advice would you give to girls who are considering standing up for a cause they care about?

A. The most important advice I can give when standing up for a cause that you care about, is to support and amplify the people who are marginalized and affected the most, and to always center equity in your solution making. If there is one thing that I’ve learned organizing for environmental justice, it’s that we can’t leave anyone behind when we are implementing solutions for the world’s issues.

Q. How can a person get involved in/support the work you do at Earth Uprising?

A. Young people can contact us at EarthUprising.org and start their own Earth Uprising City Group! Earth Uprising City Groups are doing amazing, unique projects in their communities that bring awareness to the climate crisis and influence change. It’s also a great way to meet people who care about your local community and environment. In Earth Uprising we also focus on building relationships because we’re going to have to work together to take on the climate crisis. The friendships we make are what keep us motivated and doing this work for as long as it takes!

Q. Anything else you’d like to share?

A. As an organizer from the beginning of this movement, I noticed something very interesting. All of the lead organizers from around the world are young women. Women are leading the climate movement! I wondered why this is the case, and that’s when I learned women are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. Women prepare food for their families and protect their homes and communities from the effects of climate change. Women are also leading the solutions to climate change! Because women are often on the frontlines of the climate crisis around the world, they are the first to develop sustainable solutions to the challenges our world is facing. Women are also the peacemakers of the world and mothers of the planet. They’re able to unite across borders to create a healthy planet and livable future for all of us!

In addition to its 2021 philanthropic partnership with WIRES, American Girl is proud to support Earth Uprising with a $25,000 donation to help in the development of the “Earth Uprising Schooled” curriculum and student leader training for fall 2021. To learn more about Earth Uprising or to make a donation, visit EarthUprising.org.

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