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Meet our new Youth Program Coordinator: Xavier Holmes

By Xavier Holmes

Hello, my name is Xavier Holmes and I am thrilled to be stepping into the Youth Program Coordinator role for SanDeigo350’s Youth4Climate program. This opportunity is a dream job for me not only since I have years of experience leading volunteer-based programs, but because climate activism has been a foundational part of my life.

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology degree in 2021. My time there was filled with many wonderful opportunities where I could chase my passions for empowering disenfranchised communities and contributing to the climate movement. I began as a volunteer for an organization called Special Olympics Young Athletes where I helped d/Deaf and Disabled youth develop their social and motor skills through sports-play. My love for this kind of volunteerism drove me to campaign for and eventually be elected into the role of President for the organization. My responsibilities shifted to administrative support for the rest of the organization: recruiting and training new volunteers, creating development plans for our athletes, and special event planning.

In conjunction with my role with Special Olympics Young Athletes, I also spent a fair amount of time contemplating how I wanted to contribute to the climate movement. Just like any other individual who cares about the health of our planet and communities, I was concerned about my future and wanted to find a way to make a meaningful difference. I joined an organization named the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition where our mission was primarily focused on pressuring the university’s Board of Trustees to immediately divest from fossil fuels, and give the student body a say in how to reinvest those funds. My time with this organization was spent participating in escalation protests, training volunteers about how to properly organize and rally, and advocating for the importance of combating the climate crisis across our campus. As someone who cares about the intersections of the climate crisis and how its consequences disproportionately affects marginalized communities, I also took part in conducting environmental racism research in the city of Pittsburgh. My study highlighted the University of Pittsburgh’s and the state of Pennsylvania’s failure to acknowledge the nature of their environmentally racist practices and address the repercussions Black communities in Pittsburgh face as a direct result.

I believe everyone has the right to exist peacefully in a safe environment, and should not have to worry about whether the water they drink is contaminated, the air they breathe is poisonous, or the land they collectively occupy will be decimated by the consequences of capital gain and greed. The climate crisis is something I think about constantly. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed with concerns about how the changing climate will negatively impact communities and ecosystems all across the world. However, instead of letting fear turn into climate doomerism, I choose to channel my feelings into productive activism. Just like any other global movement, the fight for radical change will be difficult, but I am optimistic that we will prevail in our efforts to create a better future. Encouraging individuals to build community and collectively participate in the climate movement is how I have chosen to do my part to help save our planet.

I am looking forward to serving as the Youth Program Coordinator for SanDiego350 as I will have the opportunity to help develop youth as the future leaders of the climate movement. My goals are to help expand the program by coordinating outreach efforts that will focus on making the program more accessible to youth from marginalized communities. Our young loved ones in the Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (QTBIPOC) communities are often overlooked when we consider the ramifications of the climate crisis, and their voices deserve to be centered in this movement. I want to foster a safe environment within the program where young people from any background can feel empowered to share their feelings and ideas about the climate movement. Most importantly, I want the youth who participate in the Youth4Climate program to be excited about their futures. I want them to walk away from this program and feel as though they have the tools to lift each other up, mobilize their communities, and take control of their own destinies.