Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles that will highlight the creative work of young students in the 826 MSP program, which aims to “amplify the voices, stories and power of K-12 BIPOC students.” View the series here.
The feeling of climate hopelessness is an understandable one. And for our community’s youth, that feeling is compounded with the realities of being unable to vote, getting ignored or dismissed by those in power, and the burden of trying to grow and dream on a planet whose future is in danger.
As an educator, I often find myself trying to walk the line between encouraging students’ bravery as they tackle real-world issues and wanting to protect their sense of joy and imagination for as long as possible. Confronting the climate crisis, however, is a task that requires a little — or maybe a lot — of both these qualities.
The students of this summer’s Outdoors Outspoken program, which focuses on creative writing and environmental justice, did spend a lot of time (and bravery) on realistic topics and actions — like writing to elected officials and meeting with a park board commissioner. We also took time to channel our frustrations, fears and hopes in an imaginative way, creating fictional climate superheroes who can step in to save the day when our earthly powers don’t seem like quite enough.
by Adan, age 11
I would be Iron Desert. I have the power to control sand with hand movement. I was laying on the beach at night and got bit by a crab, and I woke up with armor sand power.
Dr. Killer is Iron Desert’s enemy scientist who has a flame thrower. Iron Desert’s secret mission is to defeat Dr. Killer, who has an underground base. Iron Desert found him putting fire on the ocean. Iron Desert finds something of Dr. Killer’s machines. Iron Desert breaks it. Iron Desert’s trying to save people and animals, plants, and the city.
by Kaleb, age 9
Once upon a time there’s a superhero that likes to help people and Earth. He got his powers using his money to buy powers from a scientist. His name is Jackpack, fast as wind and good at building. I will use my power to stop Jackpower, my twin brother with the power to cause bad air and destroy the animals. I, Jackpack, will stop you from hurting Earth and save you. I will make homes for the animals and help them.
by Hamza, age 12
It’s raining in the city, that sounds pretty fine, but Dr. Dingo is here to stop climate change and crime. For all those villains out there wasting all their time. Doing those vicious crimes. They’re not worth a single dime.
Dr. Flamingo here, I do it for the money, I’ll set forests on fire and kill bees that make any honey. I’m done playing games, I’m going to set this forest on fire with flame.
No need to have a problem, any grudges that you have, just drop ’em. No need to be despicable or wicked—OK, why don’t I try to be a hero.
With this ice of mine I can help you!
Yes, of course, let me tell you my journey.
I had a lot of bullies, yeah it really hurt me but it never let me down, I felt like a king but I didn’t have a crown. I enjoyed life even though I was bullied, but the ice gave me an opportunity, that’s why I took it.
Look man, not gonna lie, I had a tough life, yes I did cry. In my life, life was very hard, training was all I had left. Parents gone at age 16, couldn’t even drive a car, succession put very far. But hey, I trained so I can be a hero, we can build a garden with your fire and my ice, would you like to?
Of course, let’s change the climate and stop the bad bein’.
826 MSP’s mission is to amplify the voices, stories and power of K-12 BIPOC students through writing, publishing and leadership programs. To learn more about 826 MSP, check out our website or visit us on social media @826msp (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Photos courtesy of 826 MSP.