Feature
Prime Minister’s Youth Awardee and Director of the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, Eleanor Terrelonge.
Photo: Mark Bell

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister’s Youth Awardee, and Director and Founder of the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council (JCCYC), Eleanor Terrelonge, is passionate about safeguarding the country against climate change.
  • She believes that her interest in and the application of science, research and technology, along with work done through the JCCYC, will enable her to assist in shaping the future of the Jamaica she desires to be a part of.
  • The JCCYC was formed in April 2017 and liaises with the Climate Change Advisory Board (CCAB) through its quarterly meetings where both groups identify ways in which they can partner to achieve the latter’s objectives.

Prime Minister’s Youth Awardee, and Director and Founder of the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council (JCCYC), Eleanor Terrelonge, is passionate about safeguarding the country against climate change.

She believes that her interest in and the application of science, research and technology, along with work done through the JCCYC, will enable her to assist in shaping the future of the Jamaica she desires to be a part of.

The JCCYC was formed in April 2017 and liaises with the Climate Change Advisory Board (CCAB) through its quarterly meetings where both groups identify ways in which they can partner to achieve the latter’s objectives.

Ms. Terrelonge tells JIS News that the JCCYC’s establishment evolved from her eagerness to play a role in combating climate change, as also advice she received from Chairman of the CCCAB, Professor Dale Webber, during a meeting with him.

“I went to meet with him and asked if there was any way that young people could get involved or how we could contribute to fighting climate change because that was something that I was passionate about and I knew quite a few young people who had the same interest,” she informs.

Ms. Terrelonge says Professor Webber, who is Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Principal of the Mona Campus, indicated that the Advisory Board was looking to form a youth council and asked me to reach out to young people to see how much interest I could generate.

“I reached out on social media and in the first couple of weeks I realised that the passion and the interest was there among young people,” she points out.

Ms. Terrelonge says one way in which the Council is assisting the CCAB is through public awareness, which sees the volunteers reaching out to Jamaicans of all ages through various communication platforms to educate them on climate change.

“Our main aim is to raise awareness and then try to create a culture change so that we can see [positive] action. We do an extensive social media campaign and we also visit primary schools and high schools just to have one-on-one talks and allow students to do hands-on activities, and really bring climate change home to them,” she outlines.

One key calendar event, to this end, is the Council’s annual expo that brings together secondary and tertiary students with businesses and organisations working in the area of climate change.

It facilitates learning and exchange while generating heightened student interest in ways to combat the weather phenomenon. The next expo is slated for February 2019, and will focus on plastic reduction.

The Council also engages in other initiatives which sees them partnering with communities and organizations, such as Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth, Boys’ Town in Kingston, and Guy’s Hill in St,. Catherine, in clean-up activities, tree planting exercises and public fora which enable members and residents to voice their concerns about climate change, which includes food and water security.

JCCYC also partners with youth organizations such as the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, the Mitigation and Adaptation for Climate Change (MACC) Group, and corporate entities such as Solar Buzz Jamaica, and international organisations such as UNESCO.

Between working on her Molecular Biology thesis at the UWI and volunteering with the JCCYC, Eleanor Terrelonge, also volunteers with United Way of Jamaica.

 

Director and Founder of the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, Eleanor Terrelonge, assists students from Boys’ Town All-Age School in Kingston in a tree planting exercise at the institution.

 

She was recently received the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Environmental Protection, a recognition that she does not take lightly, pointing out that it will be used to increase the reach of her influence.

“I am hoping to use the platform of this recognition, that I wouldn’t have had without the award, to reach more young people and inspire them especially, because so much of my work is voluntary.

Even if it is not in the environmental sector, I really want to inspire young people to go out there, volunteer, take an interest in their country and take something into their own hands,” Ms. Terrelonge says.

She maintains her belief and hope in young people by declaring that “you are never too young to make a difference”.

“In five, 10 [or] 15 years, you are going to be in the positions of people you [now] think of as decision makers. We have to drive the change that we want to see. It is up to us to build the country that we want for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren,” Ms. Terrelonge emphasizes.