By Allie Skalnik
Bhavya Thakkar is a fifth grader, and she created Earth Charter Indiana’s Youth Ambassadors program all on her own. The program began in December 2020, and has been working tirelessly since to raise the alarm about the climate emergency in Indiana. The Youth Ambassadors focus on community efforts, believing that the only way to fight the crisis will be for people to come together and prioritize climate action.
Bhavya has a presentation she uses to persuade others about the urgency of the climate emergency, filled with facts in order to promote better climate literacy and awareness. Check it out here. Not only is Bhavya passionate about climate change, she participates in pageants in her free time. Using her platform to bring awareness to climate change, she is redefining the pageant world and making sure climate change is talked about in many spaces. Bhavya wrote a letter explaining how pageantry and climate change have more in common than you may think, and it is copied below.
I had the honor of speaking to Bhavya and her mother over the summer, and they graciously agreed to an interview. They explained to me why the Youth Ambassadors program matters so much and why it is important more students join their effort.
Tell me a little about the Youth Ambassadors program and what has been achieved so far.
Bhavya’s Mother: We started doing a lot of tree-planting in our community, a number of trash pickups, you know, every small effort counts towards the bigger goal. But for that matter, we need to create a constant exchange of ideas and sharing among peers, so that way, we can add more kids into our group. The more the merrier. To get more kids involved in this process, we’ve done online/virtual recycling projects and things like that. We’ve spoken to the Noblesville City Council, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, and Keep Noblesville Beautiful organizations to try to give them more hands to [do more] proactive projects in the city to make these environmental efforts of real use. Obviously, it is hard, [climate change] is already too much out of our control, but people like you and me can actually make this “out of our control” effect lesser and lesser, a little bit more every day. Every person counts, so we want to have a constant effort towards… fighting this climate crisis.
How did Youth Ambassadors get started?
Bhavya: We’ve been with Earth Charter Indiana for a while now, but we created the Youth Ambassadors in December [of 2020]. The reason we started this was because not a lot of people know about climate change, so we wanted to invite more people into the climate change world and realize that they need to know about climate change, and it’s their future that’s going to be ruined if they don’t help. So, they’re helping their future.
Are there any Youth Ambassador projects you’re particularly proud of?
Bhavya: So I went to the climate emergency [strike] on March 19th with the Confront the Climate Crisis kids, and a few weeks later, me and the Youth Ambassadors created a letter to Governor Holcomb saying that we agreed with the Confront the Climate Crisis kids and that he should meet up with them.
One of the responsibilities of the Youth Ambassadors is to learn about the climate crisis and then teach others, what guidance do you have with this?
Bhavya: Earth Charter has introduced me to many new climate activists, so I made environmental workshops, I’ve worked with the Helping Ninjas, I’ve been to tree plantings, and all that Earth Charter Indiana has introduced me to. So, Youth Ambassadors has been going along since December, and we made a grand opening a few months ago. There, I met many other activists, and I got contacts for many other people from the City Council, so I can share my work with many more people. I also watched the I am Greta film there and learned about Fridays for Future. On Earth Day, we worked with Earth Charter Indiana [at the Earth Day Indiana Festival, at Garfield Park]. We made a game. [With] the meats and vegetables, we asked people to put them in order [of carbon footprint], so I could see how much they really know about climate change. So I learned that not a lot of people know that meat is bad for climate change. Not a lot of people know that what they’re eating is bad.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
Bhavya: My favorite part was going to the statehouse with CtCC. I love meeting with them and talking to them about what they did to get this far, so that’s probably been my favorite
Bhavya’s Mother: To us, every voice counts, whether you’re making a small impact or a big impact, every small effort counts. So that’s when, you know, Bhavya being the youngest in the crowd when she went to the environmental emergency [strike] among all the high schoolers, and she did the speech about the climate crisis, and with her example of, “Do you want to be the person who sits on the couch and eats pizza all day, or do you want to eat pizza later and get up to help climate change?”, [that shows] every small, little voice counts.
Are there any lessons that you’ve learned?
Bhavya: I’ve learned that some people, even though you’ve told them a lot about climate change, they still won’t listen to you, but you just have to move on and keep going to more people. More people will make one person say “yes”.
Are there any projects that you still want to pursue?
Bhavya: I’ve made my letter to my state representative, so we’re trying to send it to him so that I can meet with him to talk to him about climate change, so he can make Indiana the first state to [declare] a climate emergency.
The Youth Ambassadors are taking an important stance on climate change. They fill an important gap in Earth Charter Indiana’s efforts because the organization has programs for very young students, programs for high school-age students, and it is important that kids don’t just stop working to combat climate change in between. If you are 10 or younger, please consider joining this important cause.
Contact Tatjana at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the team.