Environmental Impact Club invites guest speaker Linda Staheli

Andrew Chen, Staff Writer

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Linda Staheli, the founder of the Global Co Lab Network came to Jefferson on May 8 to discuss her work and mission to empower the next generation to take action on environmental issues around the world. Staheli, who had previously worked for the NIH and the U.S. State Department founded the organization in 2014 to give teens and young people the ability to take action on global issues with the support of adult mentors and experts.

“The big question we’re trying to answer here is, how can we build a network of teens who can tap the expertise of organizations such as the Smithsonian or the NIH to solve problems in our community? To do this, we’re partnering with organizations around the world and building networks of teens around them. Essentially, we are supporting young people and giving them the tools they need to take action themselves.” Staheli said.

One of the main initiatives of the Global Co Lab Network is the Teens Dream Co Lab, where teens submit videos promoting the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and their ideas for change in an annual video competition.

“Last year, we got 160 videos from 30 different countries and flew in winners to D.C. from Indonesia, Romania, Spain, and all across the U.S. We introduced them to mentors and networked them with experts around the DMV area. After they leave, many of them become leaders of our virtual rooms, where they work with other teens from around the world [to] tackle global issues while being guided by adult experts in each field.” Staheli said.

Together with organizations such as the Smithsonian, the Global Co Lab Network is expanding these virtual rooms, or Dream Hubs to encompass many more of the SDGs put forth by the UN. As of now, there are 7 Dream Hubs focused on climate change, zero hunger, quality education, health, gender equality, plastics and pollution, and the arts. These hubs are each working to create change in the community and raise awareness to the importance of each of these subjects.

Staheli is now focusing on bringing the word of the Global Co Lab Network to schools around the DMV area and to inspire even more teens to take action. June Ok, a senior attended the presentation at Jefferson.

“I attended the presentation because I’m concerned about the environment and wanted to learn more about how I could help the planet. I didn’t know that this kind of network was available to students in the area and I thought that it was really interesting to have a global network of teens working to bring awareness to and solve problems such as climate change,” Ok said. “The work Mrs. Staheli is doing allows teens to get involved and fight against these environmental issues when normally, they would not know how to begin to take action.”

One of the most popular issues discussed during the presentation was the topic of climate change. The Global Co Lab Network has opened a new Dream Hub tackling the issue early this year, led by students from around the world.

“Climate change is a really important issue to me. Many people don’t realize how much we as individuals contribute to climate change with the things we buy and the foods we eat every day. It is encouraging to see teens working on climate change, as all of us, especially the younger generation, will be affected by it in the near future.” Ok said.

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