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Owen leads the way

Young South Arm climate activist Owen Fitzgerald is optimistic when it comes to the future. “Small change sparks a fire,” he said, “so individual change can spark community change, and then we can spark political change.”

Owen first became interested in climate action in grade seven after a conversation with a marine biologist, and he attended his first School Strike for Climate in 2019.

“It just kind of hit me that this is what my generation is faced with, and I have to do something about it,” he said.

“I’ve reached out to as many groups as possible and taken as many opportunities as I can.”

This has included speaking to a crowd of thousands in May 2021 at the School Strike, and being media spokesperson while helping organise a September strike.

In his final year of high school in 2021 Owen was a member of the Clarence Community Care Club, which ran activities at the 2021 Clarence Climate Action Community Expo. Owen and fellow student Oenone Schofield shared the Master of Ceremonies role.

Climate science can be a weighty topic, and Owen said young Australian activists are conscious of the importance of mental health and effects of climate anxiety. Groups such as School Strike for Climate provide invaluable support to their members.

“If someone’s feeling overwhelmed, we all sit down over Zoom and have a chat about what we’ve seen that’s good, what we’d like to see changed and how as students we can change it,” Owen said.

“I think if we as students and as a society in general can say ‘this is happening and this is how it’s going to impact on our lives’, we can then talk about what we can do to help.”

Eastern Shore Sun, February 2022, page 12