The majority of today’s world population is under 30, making this demographic not just a future generation but a force of great potential now. While the need to involve a new generation of leaders to protect our planet is as pressing as ever, the question remains: How do we inspire and empower these young people to become engaged and get involved? Crista Valentino thinks CoalitionWILD may be the first step.
Think back to the first time you interacted with nature—the first memory of breathing in fresh air, watching a butterfly fly around, or helping to plant a garden. In that moment, I wonder, were you alone? Who was there with you to introduce you to these new experiences? Who did you share the moment with, who was there holding your hand.
So often we hear the question ‘How can we get more young people involved in conservation?’ To CoalitionWILD, the answer is simple—we show them that they are not alone.
CoalitionWILD is a movement of up and coming leaders working to create a wilder world. Launched at the 10th World Wilderness Congress (WILD10) in Salamanca, Spain in October 2013, the movement showcases innovative, on-the-ground projects, activities and events that focus attention on the power of young people to initiate change. CoalitionWILD’s website (www.coalitionwild.org) is an online gathering place where visitors can find featured projects from CoalitionWILD ambassadors, download toolkits to help them enact change, and a blog from The Starfish, which gives a voice to those around the world who are making a difference.
At its core, CoalitionWILD is optimistic. There are a million of reasons to be hopeful for our future, and this generation of young leaders can create positive change for our planet. We have seen it first hand—there are many people around the world who are doing great work, and the work they are doing is making a difference. If we can connect these leaders and create a global community of ideas and inspiration, what were once individual projects become a worldwide movement of young people protecting our planet.
As young professionals and leaders, CoalitionWILD believes that we have a tremendous opportunity to learn from the successes others have had. This helps us troubleshoot challenges and connects us with peers from around the world to support one another.
Just as there was a person who showed you that first spring flower or pointed out a constellation in the stars—essentially connecting you to the world around you—CoalitionWILD aims to hold the hands of those who may be unengaged or uninspired, and lead them to other people and to our planet. By giving a voice to those without the contacts, support, networks or resources, we aim to help empower them to grow. By doing so, we invite others to join us. To CoalitionWILD, the most important place is home; if we can each do one small thing to make our own homes better, collectively we can change the Earth—that is, our collective home.
Let’s work as one, sharing ideas and supporting each other’s efforts. Let’s change the face of the environmental movement and put our faith in a positive approach. This approach doesn’t focus on problems, but rather encourages solutions. It doesn’t point blame, but invites innovation. Let us not label ourselves and others based upon political stances, occupational titles, or even age. We must realize that we need to work as one team, en masse, to create a better home for all life. Let’s introduce, or re-introduce, each other to nature and our abilities to protect it. And let’s do it together.
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