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CARE party pitches youth climate action in Vernon

Fundraiser Oct. 19 at the Okanagan Science Centre
First-place CARE winners Ruby Kaltiainen (left) and Olivia Thompson, both Seaton secondary students, worked with mentor Nicole Kohnert, with Sperling & Hansen, to create reusable bags from landfill-bound denim and other fabrics. Ruby will co-host the Thrift Stars Fashion Show at the CARE Pitch Party & Fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Okanagan Science Centre. (CARE photo)

Katherine Mortimer

Fresh Outlook Foundation

Jo de Vries believes one antidote to climate anxiety is climate action, especially for youth.

The founder and CEO of Fresh Outlook Foundation (FOF) heads up Climate Action Ripple Effect (CARE) in partnership with School District 22 and other local supporters. With a mandate to mobilize student climate action in Vernon and beyond, CARE engages teachers and students with community mentors from all sectors to create projects that support the City of Vernon’s Climate Action Plan and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Given what’s happening locally with wildfires and climate change around the world, climate anxiety is increasing exponentially, and it affects young people in particular,” said de Vries. “We’ve found that CARE educates and empowers students, building on their incredible potential for creative, impassioned change.”

Last year, about 300 students worked with 40 mentors on 74 projects that ranged from creating bags out of reusable fabrics to crafting health botanicals from local invasive plants. Projects were displayed and judged at CARE Summits in May and December.

“We can’t all be scientists or engineers or policymakers, but every single person has skills and passions that can contribute to climate action,” said de Vries. “So a student who doesn’t want to do a research project can write and perform a song, or build a solar-powered device or teach younger students about pollinators or climate-friendly behaviours.”

Response to CARE has been encouraging, said de Vries.

The next round takes place from February to May next year, with three major goals: to build teacher, student and mentor participation; to better engage Indigenous students and mentors; and to host a Community Climate Expo the evening before the CARE Summit.

“Climate change impacts everyone and all aspects of community well-being: social, cultural, environmental and economic. So people from all sectors, ages, cultures, faiths, abilities and genders must be involved in climate-action conversations and solutions.

“It’s the right thing to do and, by far, reaps the best results. Magic happens when people with diverse insights, ideas, passions and personalities collaborate to tackle big challenges. And the cross-cultural and intergenerational benefits are also huge.”

A CARE Pitch Party and Fundraiser is being held Thursday, Oct. 19 ,at the Okanagan Science Centre, from 5 to 9 p.m.

All are welcome to enjoy climate action displays, a Thrift Stars Fashion Show, games to test climate knowledge, free drinks and snacks, and the chance to bid on gift baskets donated by local businesses. Tickets are available at the door: $20 for adults, $10 for students, free for kids under 10. For more information, visit or email de Vries at

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