Youth Panelists Ask the Experts at the Kids Climate Summit on April 13! - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
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Youth Panelists Ask the Experts at the Kids Climate Summit on April 13!

The second annual Illinois Kids Climate Summit will take place virtually on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 – Elementary school students at 4:00 pm CDT and middle school students at 6:30 pm CDT. The Summit empowers youth in grades 3-8 to guide the conversation about climate change, providing a forum to engage accomplished leaders in the climate and sustainability space.

Registration is open, attendance is free and kids across the state are invited to watch the discussion and participate in online activities.

As Brynne O’Hare, one of this year’s youth panelists, said, “Sometimes, we need to look beyond just melting ice, and ask ourselves, how can I take a stand in my community?”

Youth panelists were selected from across Illinois and beyond, based on their knowledge of climate change and interest in making a difference in their communities. “We had an incredible slate of applicants for our student panelist positions,” said Summit co-organizer Newenka DuMont. “Each student contributes a unique perspective, and the resulting dynamic is truly inspiring.”

The youth panelists will ask questions of an adult panel composed of recognized leaders in environmental policy, renewable energy, and climate activism. These leaders include U.S. Representative Sean Casten, member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis; climate activist Jamie Margolin, founder of Zero Hour; Professor Esther Ngumbi, winner of the 2021 AAAS Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science and others.

“I love participating in the [Kids] Climate Summit because children are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. These experiences lead children to create solutions through their creativity, questioning, imagination and fresh perspective,” said Melissa Brice, founder of the Chicago chapter of 350.org, an environmental justice organization with a focus on the elimination of fossil fuels. “We don’t have to wait for the future for them to be leaders—they are leading now. I feel hopeful and inspired in seeing what they come up with!”

Youth panelists have been preparing with a six-week course. “Enthusiasm and commitment are bubbling over,” said teacher and climate activist Rhonda Stern. “We are beginning week four of our course, and student panelists are identifying concerns with an eye towards the next generation. I love listening as they raise urgent questions: What happens if we don’t act now, how can we innovate to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and what are communities and our country doing to build global interdependence?”

Audience members will have the opportunity to participate in climate-related activities and win prizes during the program. Kids and their families should register here: www.chicagogiftedcommunity.org/KCS-2021. Journalists and potential sponsors are also invited to attend; please contact the organizers to register.

“The future depends on what we do today,” commented Mike Della Penna, Project Lead for Carbon Free Energy at Google and one of the adult panelists. “If we make smart decisions, we can not only solve the problems of global warming, but create a post-global warming world in which today’s kids will grow up to see astonishing human progress.”

Kids Climate Summit is a collaboration between the Chicago Gifted Community Center (CGCC) and the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), and is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Dole Packaged Foods, AllBright Solar and many private donations.

For further information, please contact:


For bios of all expert panelists, see: www.chicagogiftedcommunity.org/KCS21-Experts

For bios of student panelists, see www.chicagogiftedcommunity.org/KCS-Panelists


Kids Climate Summit

www.chicagogiftedcommunity.org/KCS-2021