Youth climate activists hold Earth Day rally in Chicago

This Earth Day, Chicago-area students shared their commitment to the environment – with hopes to inspire others along the way.

On Friday, a group of high school students held a rally at Federal Plaza to voice their concerns over climate change and call for environmental justice in schools.

"It all starts with you, it’s a passion for it and it’s wanting to help everyone," said Paradise Banks, Al Raby High School freshman student.  

"I know that we're all here today because we affirm the right and legacy of environmental justice," said Jasmine Jones, Al Raby High School teacher.

The group of students and teachers is leading the charge when it comes to protecting our environment.

"It takes everyone to help," said Banks. "So we can have a healthy community for our future generations.

Banks and Jones are taking part in a solar panel installation project on the city's west side.

"We are working through the Illinois Solar for All program because Garfield Park is an environmental justice community, so we are proposing the installation of a PV system at the Garfield Park Conservatory," said Jones.  


Jones teaches physics, biology, and environmental science at Al Raby High School and is passionate about fighting environmental health disparities.

Those is attendance on Friday pressed for cleaner air and safe spaces in all schools to encourage and create healthy environments where everyone can thrive.

"Redoing HVAC systems, making sure there isn’t lead in water in schools on the south and west sides, making sure there isn’t asbestos in the walls of those schools, working on electrifying vehicles, solarizing buildings," said Jelena Collins, Oak Park and River Forest High School senior student.

Those working to bring solar panels to the Garfield Park Conservatory said they will be submitting their plans this spring and hope to gain approval sometime this summer. If the project is approved, installation could start as early as the fall.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools, on Friday, released its Climate Action Plan – the first of its kind for the district. It outlines an energy and sustainability plan for 2021-2023.