CitizenKid: Earth Comes First is a documentary that follows activists Hannah Alper, Cooper Price, Charlene Rocha and Sophia Mathur as they raise awareness of climate change issues and empower kids to take action.
Hannah Alper stands proudly on stage after being named the Youth Award winner. Photo: Steve Somerville/Torstar
Like any teenager, Hannah Alper’s social and academic life has been greatly affected by the pandemic.
“I can’t see my friends and family. I haven’t seen my cousins and grandparents,” the Richmond Hill teenager says.
While most of her words are enthusiastic and positive, she takes on a different tone when talking about the pandemic.
“I’m dealing with it. It’s not easy,” says the 17-year-old.
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Luckily, her latest project was tackled before many pandemic restrictions were introduced.
CitizenKid: Earth Comes First is a documentary that follows activists Hannah Alper, Cooper Price, Charlene Rocha and Sophia Mathur as they raise awareness of climate change issues and empower kids to take action. CitizenKid is inspired by the award-winning CitizenKid book collection from Corus Entertainment's Kids Can Press, designed to inspire kids to be better global citizens.
“I would have loved to watch this when I was nine to know I was not alone,” Hannah said.
As part of the show, she and fellow activist Cooper Price went to the Nature Based Climate Solutions Summit in Ottawa. They interviewed politicians and other government leaders, including Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The documentary provides a behind-the-scenes look at how these young activists use social media to reach their peers, community, and people around the world, making it Corus Kids’ first production to integrate social media outreach and engagement.
All four activists head to Washington, D.C. for Fridays For Future to meet youth involved in the climate strike event. Fridays For Future is a global movement that began in August 2018 after Greta Thunberg began striking every Friday outside the Swedish Parliament. Since then, young people gather and strike every Friday to demand more aggressive action from their governments and the international community.
Finally, inspired by the Nature Based Climate Solutions Summit, all four activists organize an environmental rally with the students at Toronto’s Equinox Holistic Alternative School, an environmentally conscious grade school.
Closer to home, the pandemic has given Hannah Alper the chance to explore her environment.
“I’ve been going for walks for hours, exploring the neighbourhood,” she said.
Hannah has tried to be positive about the pandemic: “I can turn it into something productive, go outside, hang out with my dogs, family, go outside more, write a blog post,” she said. “I can still talk to friends or someone on the other side of the world.”
And like any other teen caught in COVID’s web of disappointments, she’s faced cancellations of summer plans.
She was supposed to attend a concert, travel to Hawaii for an English credit and go to Washington to experience homelessness and poverty as part of a community service program.
Hannah has this advice for other teens dealing with pandemic-related disappointments. “If you have a self-care or passion project, now’s the time ... I recognize it’s a horrible situation. Use it for good.”