Youthquake reverberates in projects targeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Students who participated in last fall’s Thinc30 Youthquake reconvened in March to present final projects ranging from plans for a school greenhouse and an urban parks awareness campaign to water bottle recycling and school-based toiletries pantry from youth in low-income families.

The projects all aimed to address one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their schools or communities.

Teams from eight schools presented them at a poster session Covestro organized to follow up on Youthquake, one of a series of events the company has hosted since 2018 as part of Thinc30. The events are part of a corporate-wide initiative to find ways of addressing the UN’s SDGs in communities where Covestro operates. The Consortium’s Student Powered Solutions program partnered with Covestro to organize Youthquake and support the student projects.

Greensburg-Salem High School’s team took on seven of the SDGs in a single proposal. With plans for a school greenhouse at the core, they aimed to create “a whole closed system where food that’s grown in the greenhouse could be used in our cafeteria or even in cooking classes,” said Kiera, one of the team members.

“Waste from the cafeteria could be composted and the greenhouse could be used for teaching subjects like biology,” she added, noting that she “liked the simplicity of it.”

Inspired by the farm-to-table movement and other sustainability initiatives in agriculture, the project aimed to address SDGs including Zero Hunger; Good Health and Wellness; Quality Education; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Climate Action; Life on the Land and Responsible Consumption and Production.

Along with Greensburg-Salem, schools participating in the poster session were: Baldwin-Whitehall; Blackhawk; Carlynton; City High; Cornell; Springdale and Woodland Hills.

Like Greensburg-Salem’s proposal, most projects aimed primarily at SDGs covering environmental concerns. Teams from two schools—Blackhawk and Carlynton—for example, mounted campaigns to increase recycling of plastic water bottles. Baldwin-Whitehall’s team conceived of a system of canals along waterways to drive electrical turbines; City Charter was mounting a campaign to bring awareness to the importance of urban parks, and Springdale’s team devised an inexpensive answer to improving indoor air quality.

A couple of the teams also took aim at SDGs covering social issues. With a project called P.E.A.C.E. (Pursuing Excellence And Cherishing Everyone) at Woodland Hills, for example, students aimed to reduce violent crime in their communities with a nonprofit that would bolster social supports such as counseling, after-school activities, and career training.

At Cornell, students aiming to address SDGs involving poverty planned a school toiletries pantry that would provide supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sanitary products.

“Eighty-nine percent of our student population is from low-income families,” said Nick, one of the team’s members, adding that a survey was used to assess needs.