One really wise person once said that when we begin paying closer attention the world around us, we are destined to find a problem. Two years ago, I began paying closer attention to the world around me, and I certainly found an issue—litter. My school campus was full of improperly discarded plastics, packaging, and cans. No one would ever imagine that this mess would inspire me to do what happened next.

Soon after, I began staying after school to pick up the litter. It did not take long for me to realize that I was going to need some help. Consequently, the idea of the Earth Savers Club was born. The club was very small at first, but I kept in the back of my head this famous quote by Margaret Mead: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world.Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The Earth Savers Club went on to accomplish many great things. We managed the school’s recycling, planted a nature garden, organized the school’s Earth Day pep-rallies, and promoted environmental education in the classroom.

Within two years, the idea of the Earth Savers Club grew and other schools wanted to begin similar programs. We developed a comprehensive curricula and tools for these Earth Savers Clubs and launched the program nation-wide on International Youth Day, August 9, 2010. The following year, our network had expanded to Africa and Asia.

Today, we offer our 30 partners not only our comprehensive environmental problem-solving curricula that we developed with Earth Force, but also mini-grants, how-to guides, and a platform to share ideas with other young environmentalists.

We have been able to recycle ten tons of waste, save 86,000gallons of water, and plant 32 trees. Moreover, we have worked with common issues such as community beautification to more political issues such coal mountaintop removal, mass transportation, lowering the voting age, and Corporation for National & Community Service budget cuts.

Ideally, I hope that our movement will be recognized for helping to change the culture of our society. As young people, we would like our voice heard about the issues that we think matter. We would like to have an authentic voice in the decision-making process. Often times adults point fingers at the younger generations, when all we are asking for is to be heard and recognized for more than just citizens of the future, but citizens of today.

Now, I challenge you. Go out into your community and find the issues. Bring light to them and let your voice be heard too because no matter who you are where you have come from, you can make a difference.

Charles is a sophomore at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Georgia, where he serves as the sophomore student body president and is a leader in the Key Club as well.Charles’s successes include founding an international movement of Earth Savers Clubs through his non-profit, Greening Forward. Additionally, Charles advises a number of service-learning and youth service organizations such as Earth Force,Youth Service America, and the Zerofootprint Foundation. Charles is a member of the 2011 PARADE All-America High School Service Team, an award recognizing outstanding young service leaders presented by PARADE Magazine in partnership with generationOn, the global youth service division of Points of Light Institute.

Charles invites readers to connect with Greening Forward @COrgbon or via Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/GreeningForward).

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