Our children. Our future. Our now.

By Emily Snyder, Energy Wise Education Manager

Children are said to be the future. While the phrase may seem cliché, it’s one that has actually been a guiding principle in my life.

In my career, I have worked with kids of all ages in a variety of contexts. While it’s always my hope to be an inspiration and a guiding light for them, the reality is that they inspire me far more than I them. 

The idea that our children are the future is a notion that has always guided me, but as an environmental educator, I have recently come to believe that while it is true that our children are the future, they are also much more than that. They are the now. 

Every day, our children are acting and influencing society. They impact the way we live, the way we think about and build communities, and the way we interact with each other. 

All across the city, thousands of children are contributing to the development of our communities, making them more vibrant through their music, dancing, art and laughter; more sustainable either by keeping their community spaces clean or implementing energy efficient practices learned from the Energy Smart program at home with their families and sharing their knowledge with them about the longterm benefits to us all; and more welcoming and inspiring through their volunteering and, in some cases, mentoring of those coming up behind them.

And they're doing it all now. They aren't putting the world off, and we can't put them off.

Humans have an intrinsic need to contribute to society; children no less than adults. That's why I love teaching them about energy efficiency. Because it's so easy and accessible, a child presented with a few CFLs and faucet aerators can begin making a difference right at home with his or her family's energy bills, and in his or her carbon footprint, immediately. Since their parents are far more likely to listen to them than they are to another adult, children are uniquely poised to lead our entire community in becoming more energy-savvy. The difference they make is immediate. Our students are teaching their families to make efficient improvements to their homes; develop habits like turning out the lights and turning off game systems; and thanks to our systems-based approach, they're teaching adults why it all matters.

Through learning about energy efficiency and introducing it at home, kids are helping to alleviate poverty and fight climate change, and they're doing it today. There's no need to wait for the future.