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Broward Students Meet For Youth Climate Summit On Sea-Level Rise

Deerfield Beach High School freshman, Khushi Desai, held up a Time Person of the Year cover, in honor of climate activist and 2019 person of the year, Greta Thunberg.
Caitie Switalski
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

About 1,000 middle and high school students and teachers from 27 schools came together for the second annual Broward Youth Climate Summit in Fort Lauderdale. 

Students had the chance to participate in a Broward County version of 'Game of Floods,' an interactive scenario. They also heard panels on how sea level rise will impact politics, art, economics, law and how they can advocate for policy change. The day-long event took place at the Museum of Discovery and Science.


"I just want to come here and have fun, hopefully inspire other people, and get inspired from other people,"Khushi Desai said, a freshman at Deerfield Beach High School.

Unlike most of the students there, she didn't come with her school. Instead, Khushi got permission to come on her own, and she brought her mom with her. Sheheld up a 'Time Person of the Year' photo frame and put her face inside for a picture. Youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg, now 17, was named Time Person of the Year and Khushi says she's inspired by her. 

"I really want to help save the environment 'cause in turn that will save us and humanity," Desai said.  

Teachers are also seeing the effect Thunberg's advocacy and celebrity has had on students in their classrooms. 

"For my generation our heroes were, like, athletes,"  said Calara Mabour, who teaches biology, marine science and humanities at Northeast High School in Oakland Park. "But for them, their heroes are changemakers... I really am inspired by them." 


The City of Sunrise booth at the summit displayed the book Thunberg wrote, as well as a list of environmental careers for students to consider.
Credit Caitie Switalski / WLRN
The Florida Channel
The City of Sunrise booth at the summit displayed the book Thunberg wrote, as well as a list of environmental careers for students to consider.

Mabour said she hopes to add Thunberg's book, "No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference," to her class reading list.  Read More: Meet The Weston High School Student Teaching Climate Assemblies After The Youth Climate Strike

At the summit, students also heard from the Secretary of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection, Noah Valenstein:

"Thirty years from now, plenty of projections show two feet of sea-level rise in Florida," Valenstein told them. "That is going to make a profound difference. You matter. And you will be able to bring solutions to challenges that we have struggled with today."

After the summit's conclusion students were given a homework assignment: to calculate sea level rise projections for their school over time  and illustrate it with a community art installation called Rising Waters.

Students who attended were also asked to implement a Climate Action Plan at their schools to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020. 

"I really want them to be able to see themselves as a part of the change that could come," Mabour said.  

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Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.