Aidan Chau is a junior at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where he majors in clarinet performance. Like many teens across the globe, he’s worried about what climate change could mean for the future.
While a good chunk of those concerned teens (as many as one in four) go the traditional advocacy route - going to rallies, participating in walk-outs, and writing letters to public officials - Chau decided to go a step further. He founded his own nonprofit, called Artfully Green.
“I have many friends who are very passionate about climate change and the environment. So I decided it would be a good idea to start an organization where we could make an impact,” Chau said.
The Artfully Green leadership team includes three other Douglas Anderson students: Elena Every, Sofia Klostermeyer, and Emma Bailey.
The nonprofit is still in its infancy, but it already has a claim to fame - it helped raise more than $20,000 to supply the city of Wuhan, China, with masks and other medical supplies as the city struggles with the coronavirus outbreak. Chau said Artfully Green’s efforts were covered by a local news station in Wuhan as well as China Central Television.
But the main focus of the nonprofit is to fund climate change research and raise awareness.
“At Artfully Green we have artists create art inspired by climate change,” Chau explained. “We sell that art and use the money that we raise to conduct climate research and to help out wherever we can in the world.”
The nonprofit is currently focusing its research efforts on algae, specifically giant kelp, and how the aquatic species could help fight climate change through carbon sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide - the most commonly produced greenhouse gas.
Chau will be talking about this research in his upcoming TEDxYouth@Jacksonville talk on Tuesday, March 3.
“In my TED talk, I'm going to not only push for algae research and algae for climate change, but I'm also going to talk about the effects of climate change that we've had. But since that's covered a lot already, I'm going to talk about how we could better push for future technologies to be implemented in plans like the Green New Deal and the Paris Agreement,” he said.
He’ll be joined on stage at the Florida Blue Conference Center by five other local high schoolers:
- Jabrea Ali, who will present three steps in self-transparency that can improve mental health in young people.
- Mario Barrozo, who suggests the American education system could be improved by looking to models used in other countries.
- Jessica Malosh, who will discuss the dangers of social media and how posting more inclusive content could help relieve feelings of isolation and depression among teenagers.
- Winston Seabrooks, who will explore how to bring pride back to his inner city school and how to motivate its students to take on leadership roles.
- Zariah Swanigan, who will describe how negative labels and stereotypes impact young people.
The TEDxYouth@Jacksonville conference is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3. Tickets, which are available here, are free for students and $25 for adults.