The formula for empowering kids!
Frequently referred to as the Chinese Greta Thunberg, this is why your children need to know about Lance Lau: He stands his ground in order to carry forward his beliefs. Holding controversial beliefs in a world where people can't seem to agree on what's good and what's right is a tough line to walk, even as an adult! Lance is a savvy environmental activist despite his young age and understands that "people tend to listen to words that are pleasing to their ears."
Hong Kong student and environmental activist Lance Lau was shocked to discover that the climate crisis, a topic he seldom ever heard about, meant that we have just over 10 years to prevent irreversible damage to the Earth. At the tender age of 10 years old, Lance was confronted with what he calls "a bad future or no future at all." What will the world be like when he's 20 years old?
So who is Lance Lau?
"I want my future," he says. Inspired by Greta Thunberg's solo protest in front of the Swedish Parliament, this Hong Kong student started his own solo campaign at his local primary school. It doesn't require too much imagination to conjure up the kind of attitudes that most passers-by have towards streetside canvassers… even if they are kids. Thanks to Greta's example, Lance was inoculated from some of the harsh feedback coming from his fellow students. "[At first, I was] called an idiot by 50-60% of the students who walked past me," he remembers, "But it doesn't affect me. Because I just continue on. I don't care what they say. I care about the people who are helping me [...] Sometimes, I get a bit mad in a matter of seconds when someone says something mean. [...] But when it comes to the planet, it doesn't affect me. Even when they don't respond to me during my morning assembly speeches for climate change, I continue on." he says.
His campaign is nearing its 2 year anniversary this week! And his perseverance has made it such an institution that the school counsellor "doesn't mind when Lance just barges in every Friday to grab his signs."
So what does this mean?
As Lance says, "No one is too small to make a difference, and no action is too small to start with." And indeed, it takes a spark to start a fire. In the face of a sea of plastic and criticism, Lance recognises that "Some of the people may be scared right now, I understand." "But striking in front of your school or in a safe place could really help. It could spur [something bigger]," he adds.
If there's one thing we can all learn from Lance's ongoing environmental protection campaign, it might just be the formula for empowering young people to advocate for their beliefs is:
Encourage them to start small and recognise their efforts by taking them seriously.
"Be what you can be. Do what you can," Lance advises, adding that, "If we don't take action now, humanity is just not going to exist very soon."
Find (or create) safe spaces where they can share their thoughts and feelings like this one:
"And you have Coca-Cola boasting about making a few bottles from bottles taken from the sea. Why are you using rubbish to make more rubbish? That's called greenwashing!"
And be there to support them in facing their critics in a healthy way.
Whether it's reminding them of what they are fighting for or helping them make sense of the feedback they get - the value of your support is immeasurable!
Fun fact: When Lance feels down about the climate crisis, he turns to reading books and magazines, a safe haven from mean comments and aggressive algorithms.