By Winnie Hwo, Public Engagement Specialist
This is my third year working on the REaDY Summit. One of the perks is to be energized and enlightened by the Richmond Green Ambassadors. They’re the driving force behind the half-day summit taking place on Saturday, April 26.
This year is even more special, because for the first time, I met all 70 Ambassadors, a bunch of high-energy high school students in Richmond who volunteered their time to be the city’s environmental stewards.
I joined Athena Wong, Ryan Tsang and Jamie Ng for a recent Chinese-language radio talk show at Fairchild Radio. The Grade 12 students, who signed up to be the MCs and co-chairs of the REaDY Summit 2014 organizing committee, are much more than just “REaDY.” The annual April Summit they put together — with help from City of Richmond, school district, David Suzuki Foundation and this year, the Musqueam First Nation — is only a small part of what they do year-round. The Richmond Green Ambassadors Program is clearly a force to be reckoned with, if you believe our young people will lead us to a greener future.
As Ambassadors, the student volunteers work with the City of Richmond and school district to plan out the year-long program, which involves creating a strategy to promote environmental stewardship on issues such as waste diversion, composting, tap water and invasive-species awareness. They also connect with like-minded groups in the region. But the most fun is the hands-on involvement, like picking up garbage in parks and beaches, organic gardening, tree-planting and habitat enhancement.
According to Athena, Ryan and Jamie, picking up cigarette butts and plastic waste in Richmond Parks and beaches makes them more determined to share their knowledge and passion for protecting the environment with their families and communities. All three youth leaders shared stories from their parents, who came to Canada from cities where pollution is real and damaging. For Athena, Ryan, Jamie and their fellow Ambassadors, being a part of the Richmond Green Team is more than just an educational program. It is their way to build on their families’ experience from the “old” country and be the engine of change in the country where they were born and call home — Canada.
As the Richmond Ambassadors gear up for Saturday’s (April 26) REaDY Summit, they will gain experience to share with David Suzuki, co-founder and volunteer for the David Suzuki Foundation. Suzuki is keynote speaker and will participate in a dialogue with students on Saturday morning at the REaDY Summit at R.A. McMath Secondary.
If you want to take part, register at www.readysummit.ca or show up between 8:30 and 9 a.m. at R.A. McMath Secondary in Steveston, Richmond, for on-site registration. If you plan to take transit, you will likely meet other REaDY enthusiasts at the Canada Line’s Brighouse station.
The David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green, Lindsay Coulter, is encouraging participants to bring small, used electrical appliances and spent light bulbs for free recycling. The goal of this initiative is to match the theme of this year’s REaDY Summit, We are the Fraser. nə́c̓aʔmat ct. We are One. By keeping waste away from our waterways, we can help the Fraser River, which sustains wildlife and nature and nurtures 60 per cent of British Columbians.
To learn more about Richmond’s Green Ambassadors’ Program and Richmond Earth Day Youth Summit, check the following links: