Every Friday morning he strikes in front of his school. Every month, he organises a beach clean in his neighbourhood. He discusses green changes with his school principal and has created an online pamphlet for other kids to vote with their voice. Oh, did we tell you Lance has just turned 10?
The Thurnberg effect you might call it. A movement that has arrived in Asia, more specifically to Tung Chung in HK, where kids like Lance Lau are outsmarting us on how to save the planet. These kids understand the urgency and don’t see the obstacles. Inspired by other young people like Greta Thurnberg, they understand the power of these important messages being delivered by kids – Child Power, as Lance calls it.
From Berlin to HK
If anyone understands this, it’s Lance. After his first participation in the FridaysForFuture May strike in HK, he consequently joined the FridaysForFuture August strike when on holiday in Berlin. Lance saw for himself, the importance of making a stand, at whatever age. And he wanted to show his friends in Asia, that kids can make a change.
“At first, I wanted to do a fullblown strike, but the school said: ‘you can’t mess with the students having class, they are entitled to be able to have class in peace’. I tried walking into the school with a sign, but the school only allowed me to do it in recess or after lunch. So I thought: ‘Well, that’s less than an hour, so how about we just do it when the students are coming in and it will have the best effect?'”
Daring to Do
For 10 weeks, Lance has engaged in his weekly Friday morning strikes in front of Ying Wa Primary School, and it takes some guts to do a ‘Greta’ on your own:
“I will have affected most of the students by now, most know ‘this is this guy striking’. However, in the first few weeks there were some people calling me an ‘idiot’. But I don’t care.”
He doesn’t care and he also knows that he has to make the most of this possibility to affect his peers. At a talk at The Royal Geographical Society, Lance learned that the best way to convince people is to ‘tell them something that is related to themselves’. Therefore, he often does something interactive, by e.g. asking his peers where they live in HK – while showing them a map with red dots of areas that will be flooded by 2050. When you tell a 10-year-old that their home will be washed away in 30 years if we don’t take action, it has an impact.
That’s not all of course. Once a month, Lance organises a beach clean-up in his neighbourhood, picking up 100-200 kgs.of trash in the mangroves per clean.
“As of now there are 200 species that become extinct every single day, so we’re hoping to protect the bireds, the fish and creatures in the areas. The beach clean-ups I’ve been organising myself are mostly in this mangrove near my house, it has a lot of crabs, incl. horseshoe crab that we want to save. I’m just spreading awareness here, about the planet.”
Awareness is key, and actions like the strike and beach clean are opening the eyes of Lance’s friends – and their parents. And communication with the adults is also key if you ask Lance.
“I wrote letters to the principal about what they should do and we sat down for chats. I’m trying to do changes within the school, saying it’s bad that we’re using plastic lunchboxes and asking if we could get solar panels.”
According to Lance, the school is open to change and says he’s lucky that they prioritize topics such as climate change, water and food waste. However, he believes a child’s voice can really make a change and create ripples with other kids:
“Greta started talking about this, and this is when I realised she was bringing the climate situation to attention for everybody. It’s an emergency and it seems like child power has a bigger effect than adults power. And I don’t wanna die!”
Lance will carry on his strike and hoping he will get more kids joining him this Friday, 29th November, where the global FridaysForFuture strike will take place again all over the world. He’s aware that the timing in HK might not be the greatest – but hoping with the police being more focused on the HK strikes, one can do a strike in front of your home, building or school.
“Everyone should be informed about the climate situation. Informed about how the coral reefs are disparaging. You really need to be informed about everything so you can take action. Call the school management, make them do an anncouncement, or create more online articles. We want the teenagers as well, anyone who is 5 years to 20. We will be losing our future if we don’t do this together!”
Follow Lance’s journey on FridaysForFutureHongKong on Instagram or the FB group and download this great editable pamphlet by Lance, if you want to make a difference and become wiser on how you can make a change. Also, please fill out this survey, if you (or your child) would be interested in being part of a network that helps create change.
A recent IG post from Lance:
Lance’s 4 key climate topics
- Start using more public transport like MRT and tramways.
- Eat less meat, starting with beef. In HK we’re actually importing a lot of Brazilian beef, farmers are using the land of the amazon and burning it down, and that’s what’s causing most of the fires. They are building farms for cows that are brought to HK to eat. Eating less meat, starting with beef, I think we could do that around the world because beef has a greater impact than any other meat.
- I have two things politically that the govt could do. Now, our recycling situation is really bad, so most of the stuff is dumped in landfills or dumped in illegal roadside dumps. If you’re very lucky your rubbish might get delivered to a small organisation that can handle some trash or your rubbish might get shipped on a cargo ship and recycled somewhere else – but that journey produces a lot of emissions. So, why don’t we build our own recycling plant, starting with compost? Now, Greta was saying to plant more trees – we could bring compost to grow trees. Another problem is plastics. we need a recycling plant for plastics. We really should find space, plastic or any type of recycling should have priority
- Solar/wind building plan. The government should implant a policy to have a solar panel or wind turbine in the hills or top of a building – every building. At least one per cent – better than nothing, right? One solar panel on every building, everyone could do that. Fairly easy and doesn’t require much space.