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Students rally in support of Green Amendment on Earth Day

Delaware youth are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would grant residents the right to a healthy environment. 

Student leaders of the Eco Alliance club at the Charter School of Wilmington held an outdoor rally Thursday in recognition of Earth Day. The goal was to drum up signatures for their petition in support of the so-called Green Amendment.


The proposed state constitutional amendment would grant all people, including future generations, the right to clean air and water, a stable climate and a healthy environment. 

A few dozen students held signs, huddled against a chilly wind at the school track and chanted, “One earth, one chance!”

Sophia Meara, a junior at Wilmington Charter and co-founder of the environmental club, says the Green Amendment is the first legislative effort the club has supported. 

“It’s so inclusive, and it’s necessary for all of us,” she said. “Unlike other legislation, this is the most important piece.”

State Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton (D-Christiana) also spoke at the rally. She’s expected to introduce a version of the Green Amendment in Delaware’s General Assembly soon. 

“This amendment will … make sure that all Delawareans have their rights in the Constitution—the right to clean air, clean water and a clean environment,” she said. 

Wilson-Anton encouraged the teens to keep pushing for change. 

“As someone young, I know how frustrating it can be when older people tell you, slow down, calm down, and maybe even are kind of patronizing and tell you that your energy will go away with time,” she said. “Don’t listen to them.”

Advocates with Plastic Free Delaware and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network also spoke at the rally in support of the Green Amendment. 

“I want to apologize for my generation and generations prior for giving you an uphill battle to win, but it is a winnable battle,” said political organizer Kerri Evelyn Harris. “This Green Amendment is going to make it better for your generation and generations going forward in ways that we were never able to make it in the past. We could have, but we didn’t have the political will. We didn’t have the want and passion that you guys definitely do.”

Harris, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware) in the 2018 Democratic primary, noted any change to the state Constitution must pass the General Assembly twice, in two consecutive legislative sessions. 

“That means a lot of people power,” she said. “Know that I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in this fight from now until the end.”

In the meantime, Sophia Meara says individuals can take simple steps to protect the environment. 

“Carry reusable straws, reusable utensils, reusable water bottles, bags,” she said. “Just reduce your plastic consumption.”

Claire Stella, another junior at the Charter School of Wilmington who helped organize the rally, says adults need to educate themselves about environmental issues, and implement environmental curriculum in schools. 

"Because it’s kind of up to our generation at this point to fix a lot of the climate issues we’ve been left with,” she said. “So education is a big first step.”

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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