Elbow Your Elders Story

Name: Molly Doyle

Age: 18

Country: New Zealand

Elbow Your Elders Story

For many people it’s a simple thing really. Growing up in one home ,one location. Same smells, same colours, same weather, same environment. But for me it’s been different. Two environments, two communities. Worlds apart from one another. .

It all started on the 25 of July 2001. I was born into a household in the bustling City of Wellington New Zealand. The capital of a Small yet progressive country. I attended a primary school about a five minute walk from my house. Surrounded by hills of native New Zealand bush and the ocean nearby, it was a nature playground. Yet every weekend I’d travel. I would travel an hour and a half to land far away. Land of which is for work, work for humans. Farming. 

At the age of 14 I learnt what climate change was. I was hurt. Both my life styles, city dwelling and farming were contributing to the killing of our planet. I often wondered what could I do. How I could help. My education had made me aware of what the impacts would be on the world. But gave me no solutions. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do to change. What I could do to make things right. 

But nothing seemed to work. This is an issue much larger than myself. Much larger than anything I could do alone. And yet, no one else was doing anything. No one knew. Where was there education? 

In late 2018, the School strike movement was born in Sweden. In New Zealand a girl on the west coast of the lower north island started a school strike movement in New Zealand. Sophie Handford. She was planning a strike for the next global strike day. Still feeling hopeless I messaged the Facebook page she had created to see how I could help. A day later I became a member of the national team of organizers for the New Zealand School strike for climate movement. At that time it was small, a tiny group of New Zealanders forming to hopeful follow in the footsteps of our international heroes. 

Building the movement we realised you can’t strike without meaning. Meaning is important. It holds everything in place. We asked ourselves, “our country is one of the best in the world, what are we asking for?” So we did our research and we constructed demands around our countries worst attributes to contributing to the climate crisis.  With this knowledge we then created resources for youth to engage in the lead up to our big strike!. Then we striked. And that was it. 

In the weeks following the strike we realised. Our message was clear , they heard us. But we now have a platform. One of which people listen too. People engage with. We hold power. The youth hold power for once. We questioned what can we do with this power to make positive change in our small region of the world. Many people told us that New Zealand only contributes 0.02% of global emissions why should we change? 

But all we thought was,  what can we do to make New Zealand contribute 0% . 

With conversations with local action groups we meet and got more engaged with  a piece of legislation was passing through parliament. The Zero carbon act. Generation Zero a youth lead climate action group, had written and handed over a piece of legislation to the government to introduce.  Basically it is a bill that’ll ensure New Zealand reaches net Zero emissions by 2050. And people around the country could now submit on what they wanted it to look like. 

We met with Generation Zero and talked about how we could get more youth to engage on the bill. That’s when we formed the campaign Elbow your elders. A grassroots educational campaign to engage people in actively having influence on policy! It’s solutions based and it’s for everyone and anyone! We aimed for it to be accessible so people as young as five could understand what they could do! It is to make people aware they have power!

The campaign started, and we got leaders from across the country to send in photos of them making submissions! We used our platform to get large groups of people to get together to chat and engage as many people as possible! We hosted submission parties at Retirement homes, Schools and online! 

In the following weeks, we reached out to Famous New Zealanders, We had the prime minister encouraging people to join the campaign. We had New Zealand actors and TV celebrities doing the same! It became something heaps of people worked on and heaps of people engaged with. Inspiring Positive solutions through education and empowerment! 

Last week the submission process closed. The platform we have developed still continues. We want to use the “elbow your elders” to keep youth having conversations with older generations, to learn from them, to inspire them, and to keep our generations tight. 

What I’ve learnt from running this campaign is we can’t neglect the voice of our elders. Many of them have been fighting this fight for years. We need to talk with them. We need to honor what they’ve created and we need to ensure that we work together to make this change. 

Climate change is hurting us greatly. Our small corner of the globe is going underwater. My two upbringings are both going to be greatly affected. Farming and living by the ocean are things we need to consider. 

Education and a positive outlook will save us. I hope to educate inspire and engage more people continuing this campaign. We need to hold those conversations. We need to do this together.