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WL Students Strike, March And Rally For Statewide Climate Legislation

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — High school students marched through town Friday as part of a school strike and rally ending at the pedestrian bridge.

It's part of a campaign pushing for statewide climate legislation.

"Obviously, we really value our education and we wouldn't just choose to leave school for no reason," organizer and West Side senior Lily Shen. "So why we're here in general is because we see a really huge lack of attention around our state to the climate crisis and we believe that we need to fill that gap."

The coalition of students and community activists spent the past year organizing a statewide campaign called Confront the Climate Crisis, culminating in the announcement of a proposed bill backed by State Senator Ron Alting for the 2022 legislative session.

Sophomore Rahul Durai helped draft the bill.

"This bill would create a climate and environmental justice task force to bring a diverse set of stakeholders to the table to create a climate action plan for Indiana," he told a crowd of dozens of people gathered at the pedestrian bridge.

Organizers admitted passing the bill through the statehouse would be a challenge. But Alting says it's high time to address climate change.

"We hope it'll get through the first time but believe in yourself. Believe in yourself," Alting reiterated. "Grassroots -- I have seen it in 25 years -- grassroots still works in this country."

Alting adds this generation could be the one to solve the climate crisis. And Shen says the youth-led movement is gaining steam.

"In 2020 which was last year we actually decided to expand statewide and that's when we've gotten volunteers from all over the state, 125 student volunteers to create this campaign that's really bigger than we could have ever imagined," Shen says.

If the bill passes, the task force would submit a climate action plan with policy recommendations by November 2022. Activists are calling it a first step toward climate justice.

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