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By Rachel Whitehouse

It’s Climate Solutions Week in Winchester, and Winchester High School (WHS) students (above left to right) Malia Soderland and Vita Bialiauskaya kicked off the week by talking about climate solutions with residents at the Farmers Market.

Their message? We are not powerless in the face of climate change, but time is ticking.

“After living in Winchester for most of my life, I've noticed many residents feel powerless in the daunting fight against climate change,” said Winchester High sophomore Vita Bialiauskaya. “It’s important to me that people know how powerful collective action can be on a community level. We can all make changes; we just have to know to start.”

Malia Soderland, also a sophomore at Winchester High, wants residents to know that the Town of Winchester has a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. “It will be a joint effort to get there, hopefully faster, as time is ticking,” she says.

Vita and Malia, who along with WHS senior Maddie Kolberg also work with the Town of Winchester’s Climate Action Advisory Committee, have put their desire to make a difference into action at WHS.

They co-lead a WHS climate action club called Sunrise Winchester. “We’re joining forces with the Sunrise Movement to make a positive impact at WHS,” says Maila. The Sunrise Movement is a national youth movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.

According to Vita, Sunrise Winchester is working to implement a Sunrise Movement campaign that “aims to make Winchester High a more sustainable and climate-resilient environment.” The campaign has a series of specific recommendations. These include energy efficient buildings, sustainable lunches, climate disaster plans, pathways to green jobs, and climate curriculum. Sunrise Movement has mobilized students in hundreds of schools across the country.

Despite the daunting realities of the climate crisis, Malia and Vita both talk about making a difference in positive terms.

“I'm passionate about creating a positive impact in Winchester and believe in the power of collective action to drive transformative change through education and advocacy,” Vita says.

“I’m motivated to play my part in making a difference in the climate crisis,” says Malia. “I’ve seen firsthand the dramatic impact of climate change on the air quality in India, where my extended family lives. And we’re seeing extreme weather events and other harmful effects of climate change picking up here in the US as well,” Malia continued. “The science is clear that if we don’t make every effort to mitigate CO2 emissions, the whole planet will face massive challenges in the next couple of decades alone, threatening our health and well-being and quality of life.”

To learn more about Winchester’s Climate Action Plan, and what residents can do to help Winchester meet its climate goals, visit the Town of Winchester Sustainability Department.

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