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PM Youth Awardee passionate about mitigating effects of climate change

Monday, December 24, 2018

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Eleanor Terrelonge is passionate about safeguarding the country against climate change. As such, she believes that her interest in and application of science, research and technology, along with work done through Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council (JCCYC) will enable her to assist in shaping the future of the Jamaica in which she desires to live.

Terrelonge, who founded JCCYC in April 2017, is a recent recipient of the Prime Minister's Youth Award.

The JCCYC liaises with the Climate Change Advisory Board (CCAB) through its quarterly meetings during which both groups identify ways in which they can partner to achieve the latter's objectives.

According to Terrelonge, the JCCYC's establishment evolved from her eagerness to play a role in combating climate change and advice she received from CCAB Chairman Professor Dale Webber.

“I went to meet with him and asked if there was any way that young people could get involved or how we could contribute to fighting climate change, because that was something that I was passionate about and I knew quite a few young people who had the same interest,” she told JIS News.

Terrelonge said Webber, who is pro-vice-chancellor at The University of the West Indies (UWI) and principal of the Mona campus, indicated that the advisory board was looking to form a youth council and asked her to reach out to young people to see how much interest she could generate.

“I reached out on social media and in the first couple of weeks I realised that the passion and the interest were there among young people,” she said.

Terrelonge said one way in which the council is assisting the CCAB is through public awareness, which sees the volunteers reaching out to Jamaicans of all ages through various communication platforms to educate them on climate change.

“Our main aim is to raise awareness and then try to create a culture change so that we can see [positive] action. We do an extensive social media campaign and we also visit primary schools and high schools just to have one-on-one talks and allow students to do hands-on activities, and really bring climate change home to them,” she explained.

One key calendar event is the council's annual expo that brings together secondary and tertiary students with businesses and organisations working in the area of climate change.

It facilitates learning and exchange while generating heightened student interest in ways to combat the weather phenomenon. The next expo is slated for February 2019 and will focus on plastic reduction.

The council also engages in other initiatives which sees it partnering with communities and organisations, such as Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth, Boys' Town in Kington, and Guy's Hill, St Catherine, in clean-up activities, tree-planting exercises, and public fora which enable members and residents to voice their concerns about climate change.

JCCYC also partners with youth organisations such as the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, the Mitigation and Adaptation for Climate Change Group, and corporate entities such as Solar Buzz Jamaica, and international organisations such as UNESCO.

Between working on her Molecular Biology thesis at The UWI and volunteering with JCCYC, Terrelonge also volunteers with United Way of Jamaica.

She received the Prime Minister's Youth Award for Environmental Protection, a recognition that she does not take lightly, pointing out that it will be used to increase the reach of her influence.

“I am hoping to use the platform of this recognition, that I wouldn't have had without the award, to reach more young people and inspire them, especially because so much of my work is voluntary. Even if it is not in the environmental sector, I really want to inspire young people to go out there, volunteer, take an interest in their country and take something into their own hands,” Terrelonge said.

She maintains her belief and hope in young people by declaring that “you are never too young to make a difference”.


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