FEATURED IN YVFP FILM ‘WORDS HAVE POWER’
At 10 years old, Jaysa Hunter-Mellers’ dynamic speeches at rallies and her testimony at City Hall helped shut down the coal-fired power plant that was causing her asthma. Her story is told in the short film, “Words Have Power”, one of thirteen Young Voices for the Planet (YVFP) films produced by Lynne Cherry documenting youth solutions to the climate crisis and other environmental and social justice issues.
In addition to environmental justice, Jaysa has become a passionate advocate for civic education in all schools, so that kids—and adults, too—can learn how to participate in their own governance, take action, and speak truth to power like she did.
At 15 years old, Jaysa continues to galvanize audiences with a courage and wisdom that belie her years. She has been a Youth Leadership Panel Participant at Omega’s 2019 Drawdown Learn Conference and co-led YVFP’s Civic Engagement and Democracy workshop at the Ashokan Center’s 2020 Youth Empowerment & Sustainability Summit (YESS!). She has spoken after film screenings including the Belmont World Film Festival and the Climate Action Film Festivals. She is also featured in these Radio Kingston interviews that aired as part of YESS! and Earth Day 2020.
“Words Have Power” won 2019 Best of Fest and 1st Place Environmental Awards at MY HERO Film Festival and has been screened at or continues to tour at Wild & Scenic in CA, Climate Action Film Festivals in NY & VT, and Environmental Film Festivals in Washington DC, Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Colorado. The film is included in Zinn Education Project’s Teach Climate Justice Resources. It is also used in Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation’s citizen science air-quality monitoring programs in NY & YX and Communitopia’s climate workshops in environmental justice communities of Allegheny County, PA.
To inquire about collaborating with Young Voices for the Planet, or to invite Jaysa to appear at your event virtually, please fill out this Program Interest Form below.
Inspired by the late Congressman John Lewis [February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020], civil rights icon, and beloved moral leader, this YVFP Youth Award recognizes a young person who demonstrates exemplary commitment to action promoting climate justice and social justice in their community. At 10 years old, Jaysa Hunter-Mellers’ dynamic speeches at rallies and her testimony at City Hall helped shut down the coal-fired power plant that was causing her asthma and endangering her community’s health. Through her ongoing radio interviews and presentations at conferences, workshops and youth summits, Jaysa continues to engage policy makers, educators, parents and peers in the cause, inspiring them with her courage and calling on them to take action.
On August 23, 2020, Ms. Hunter-Mellers was presented with the YVFP Award for Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement in honor of Representative John Lewis, along with a $2000 scholarship. The award ceremony was part of an annual Bridgeport American Legion picnic organized in part by Tiffany Mellers, Jaysa’s mom and 1st Sergeant in the Army Reserve. Ms. Hunter-Meller’s advocacy was also recognized by Bridgeport, CT’s Office of the Mayor in an award presented by the Mayor’s Community Liaison, Dr. Carolyn Vermont, and by State Senator, Dennis Bradley.
CELF’S Summer Institute Reimagined supports K-12 educators nationwide with learning insights and innovative tools that combine sustainability, citizen science, and social justice. Explore their two Summer Institute programs: The Big Ideas of Sustainability (July 7-16th) and Civic Science: Inquiry into Action (July 21-30th). On July 28th, at 2:30 EST, YVFP Director, Lynne Cherry & YVFP Youth Ambassador, Jaysa Hunter-Mellers will give keynote presentations on teaching with youth success stories, catalyzing youth civic A.C.T.I.O.N, and speaking truth to power, especially when it comes to environmental justice.
ANTIOCH UNIVERSITY Environmental Advocacy Webinar Series
JUNE 11, 2020
As part of Antioch University’s Environmental Advocacy Webinar Series, co-hosted by the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS), Jaysa Hunter-Mellers presented “When Kids Fight For Environmental Justice, Words Have Power”. Jaysa shared the roots of her environmental justice advocacy in her hometown of Bridgeport CT, the link between environmental racism and climate justice, and the importance of civics in schools so more young people can learn to speak truth to power like she did. Watch the recording above and view the companion climate and civic education resources.
BROOKLYN URBAN GARDEN CHARTER SCHOOL – EARTH DAY
APRIL 22, 2020
BUGS is a community-based middle school, serving grades 6-8, where students study the natural and social environment across all subjects, using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach. Jaysa Hunter-Mellers, environmental justice and civic education advocate, and Birch Kinsey, a Buffalo-based just transition advocate will be guest presenters at BUGS’ Earth Day Virtual Assembly, organized by Director of Sustainability, Jess Norris, and the BUGS team.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT & SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT
FEB. 6-8, 2020
The Youth Empowerment & Sustainability Summit (YESS!), co-presented by the Ashokan Center and Woodstock Day School, is a global climate solution and leadership summit for young people who are ready to change their lives and their communities by working towards climate resilience. 140 students from 22 schools from the Hudson Valley, New York City, England, and Sweden participated. Jaysa Hunter-Mellers & Lynne Cherry presented Young Voices for the Planet’s film series and Civic Engagement & Democracy Curriculum, including the primary A.C.T.I.O.N. plan.
OMEGA DRAWDOWN LEARN CONFERENCE
Oct. 18-20, 2019
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living, in Rhinebeck, NY, hosted a powerful array of presenters who illuminated what is possible in the effort to achieve Drawdown—the critical point when atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations peak and decrease each subsequent year—by or before 2050. The 2019 Drawdown Learn Conference videos are freely available on demand until Oct 16 2020, and feature more than 16 hours of powerful, illuminating, and inspiring conversations. Jaysa Hunter-Mellers participated as a panelist, during the Conference’s Youth Summit, which you can read about in this NPR article.
I WANT WHAT SHE HAS PODCAST
APRIL 22, 2020
Interview with Jaysa Hunter-Mellers, Tiffany Mellers & Lynne Cherry
“Happy Earth Day!” with Jaysa Hunter-Mellers, Youth Climate Advocate and Lynne Cherry of Young Voices for the Planet
JIMMY BUFF LOVES YOU
FEB. 7, 2020
Interview with Jaysa Hunter-Mellers, Lynne Cherry & Kale Kaposhilin
“We need civic education. Not every high school is required to have civic education, which means not everybody knows their rights. If you have an issue in your community, go to your town meetings. Go straight to the source.” — Jaysa