Henry, the 6-year-old who is endearingly referred to as Henry the Emotional Environmentalist, now has a new title to be proud of. ACE is excited to announce that Henry is now an Honorary ACE Action Fellow. We wanted to connect Henry with the ACE network of over 400,000 young people who are aren’t waiting until adulthood to take action on climate - they are stepping up to the plate now.
For those who are unfamiliar with Henry’s story, his class watched a video of a small bird eating trash and it shook him to the core. Henry’s raw emotional reaction has inspired millions around the world.
18-year-old Brian McDermott, a class of 2016 Action Fellow, wanted to welcome Henry to the Action Fellowship community and let him know that anyone can fight to protect our planet, no matter their age. Below is Brian’s letter to Henry which we sent to him, along with an ACE t-shirt and Honoary Action Fellow certificate:
My name is Brian McDermott. I’m 18 years old and I just finished high school in Massachusetts. I’m writing this letter not only to tell you that you’re awesome, but also to let you know that you have a voice that you should share with the world.
I’ve spent the last year as an Action Fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), working to stop climate change because, like you, I understand that caring for our planet needs to be our biggest priority. Henry, because of your powerful call to protect the environment, it is my pleasure to designate you an Honorary Action Fellow on behalf of ACE.
I saw the video of you talking about how much you want to protect the environment. Henry, your passion for protecting our planet is admirable, and it couldn’t be more important.
When I was six years old, I had no idea that the environment was in so much danger. It’s upsetting but true that forests are being torn down all around the world, rivers and oceans are being polluted, and dirty fuels are causing climate change.
I know that you’re a smart kid, Henry, because you not only know this is happening, but understand why it’s so awful. I know that even though you’re young, you’re going to make a huge difference in the world.
When I was in elementary school, I became really interested in changing the things in the world that I was mad about. But I never knew how until late in high school. I want you to know that there are so many ways that you can fight for the environment no matter your age.
When Severn Suzuki was 13 years old, she stood in front of hundreds of international leaders at the Earth Summit in Brazil, where she explained that her future was at risk because of environmental destruction. She became known as “the girl who silenced the world in five minutes.” When Alec Loorz was 12 years old, he gave school presentations to teach other kids about climate change. He started an organization called Kids vs. Global Warming that grew to become a worldwide group with major campaigns and marches involving youth in the fight for our planet’s health. And right now, there are 21 young people - as young as 8 years old and as old as 19 - that are suing the U.S. government to protect their futures from climate change.
Henry, these are just some of the ways that young people like you and me have helped to defend animals, forests, and our futures. You have so much passion to do what’s right and stand up for what you believe in. If you end up on a stage at the United Nations, I won’t be the slightest bit surprised.
But you don’t have to start a worldwide organization or give a speech in front of world leaders to fight environmental destruction. You can take action right now in your community. Over the last year, when I wasn’t at school or spending time with friends, I spent time writing letters to lawmakers, gathering petitions, giving speeches at conferences, and visiting the Massachusetts State House to ask legislators to fight climate change. These are all simple things that you can do, too.
There was once a great basketball coach named John Wooden who said, “Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do.” Sometimes, the world may seem daunting. You may feel discouraged. The problems we face are huge. But with you on our team, I know we’ll get our way.
Class of 2016
New England ACE Action Fellowship