About a hundred people gathered in downtown Yakima to march for action on climate change as part of the worldwide movement Friday. 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is leading the cause, and has inspired community members throughout Yakima.
Their goal is to put pressure on elected officials and people of all generations to see climate change as a serious and moral issue. The local group wants to support the youth movement, talk about how climate change is affecting people in Yakima and around the world, and how they can be part of a solution.
For Coleen Anderson, one of the event organizers, she's marching to bring attention to climate change for herself, her children and grandchildren.
"For my children, for my grandchildren and the future children all over the planet," said Anderson. "They're going to be facing some pretty dire climate issues, actually we're already in the middle of those right now, and they're just going to get worse."
She said it's important for people to become aware of the facts. She hopes this march encourages people to read and learn as much as they can about climate change.
"It's a question of whether or not humanity will continue. If you read the book the Sixth Extinction, you know that we're in the middle of that sixth extinction now, and it is a natural occurrence," said Anderson. "But with the man made fossil fuels being burned and the man made emissions, it is accelerating that to an incredible rate."
Despite the youth leadership of the movement, few students in Yakima were in attendance. Event organizers said they hope they can rally more young people for future events.
However, 13-year old Bridget Murphy skipped school to show her support for the movement. She came to the rally with her two siblings and grandfather, and spoke to the crowd after the march.
"They don't talk about this much in school, and they should because it's a big problem, and it's going to impact everyone," said Murphy.
The group gathered signatures for a petition to give Yakima City Council to declare a climate emergency. Anderson said she hopes it'll show them the community is concerned about climate change. She said there is a lot the council can do at the local level as leaders in our community.
"Hopefully we would inspire them to adopt programs such as banning plastic bags, banning plastic straws, creating a recycling program, encouraging the schools to teach the subject. I think they're not," said Anderson.
Felipe Rodriguez Flores, an event coordinator, said their rally is all about bringing the community together to make their voices heard.
"We've seen the destruction that climate change is causing, and we really need to take urgent action and unfortunately we're not working at the speed that we need to and so that's why we're out here to kind of raise the alarm," said Rodriguez Flores.