During the Celtics game on November 30, 15-year-old Mass Audubon Youth Climate Leader, Ollie Perrault, was given the Heroes Among Us Award. For 25 years, the Boston Celtics have recognized people across the Commonwealth who are making a difference in our communities. This year, Governor-elect Maura Healey presented Perrault as the recipient of this prestigious award.
As an added bonus, Perrault also had the opportunity to meet Prince William and Princess Kate, who were sitting courtside as part of their brief trip to Boston for The Earthshot Prize 2022. “I told them how incredibly inspired I was to see them taking up the climate cause by dedicating themselves to policy change and supporting climate mitigation efforts by implementing innovative, sustainable solutions,” said Perrault. “I also wanted to thank them for recognizing the power and importance of youth voices in the climate conversation and taking some time to highlight some of the incredible student-led organizations I am a part of.”
Perrault became a Youth Climate Leader when she was 11 years old. The Youth Climate Leadership Program provides young adults and youth the support and tools they need to advocate for climate action in their communities. “I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to spread the word about my work and to highlight the issues and solutions that young people are prioritizing today,” she said.
Perrault’s passion and dedication to making a difference is inspirational for people of all ages, and she is the perfect example of a Heroes Among Us. In the days following the ceremony, Perrault reflected, “I have been feeling incredibly hopeful to know just how many people out there support my work and I am ready to take this recognition back to Youth Climate Action Now and the Youth Climate Leadership Program to inspire more youth leaders to join the climate conversation and continue educating, empowering, and advocating for our right to a livable future.”
To learn more about Perrault and what drove her to become a Youth Climate Leader, read what she wrote for our In Your Words column in March of 2022.
As a 15-year-old climate activist, people often ask me at what age I first got involved and started working with Mass Audubon. While I officially started as a youth leader when I was 11, I have been involved in this work for my whole life.
For my generation, there was never really a time for us when climate change wasn’t a reality or when we didn’t have something at stake in this fight. Even when I was little, I understood that my very future hangs in the balance. So, I started learning about the science of climate change, the role of youth voices, and the intersectionality of these many issues. And once I understood that joining the fight against the climate crisis doesn’t just mean combating climate change, it also means fighting for social justice, I knew that I had a responsibility to add my voice to this fight.
But at that time, it felt like no one was giving young people the tools needed to actually do something about everything that we were learning and experiencing. Instead of believing that we were simply too small to make a difference, my peers began leading the way. I was 8 years old when Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and 20 other young leaders sued the U.S. government for not addressing the climate crisis head-on. I was 10 when I first heard Greta Thunberg’s name and saw global climate strikes starting up all over the world. It was the first time I felt like I might have a voice in this.
Mass Audubon’s Youth Climate Leaders program has provided me and my peers with the tools to help lead the next phase of this fight. Our mission is to help other young leaders recognize that we each have a powerful voice that we can use to spark change. This program has really shown me that no one is too small to make an impact. My fellow Statewide Youth Climate Leaders and I put together a guide on how to form and manage a youth-led climate group. Visit massaudubon.org/yclp to download the Youth Climate Leaders Toolkit and learn how you can get involved.
In Your Words is a regular feature of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter. Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares their story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. If you have a story to share about your connection to Mass Audubon, email [email protected] to be considered for In Your Words in a future issue!