Pattye Benson

Community Matters

“Sunrise Berwyn” — Conestoga High School Climate Activists Fighting for a Greener Future

Started in 2017, the “Sunrise Movement” is a national grass-roots movement of young people uniting to stop the climate crisis. The nonprofit , which has become known for its New Green Deal proposal, describes its mission as “building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.”

The Sunrise Movement has grown to include 400+ local “hubs” across the country. The hubs work in their own communities to grow participation and elevate the urgency of climate change. The organized collectives of volunteers fight for environmental legislation and cultural realignment.

Although I was aware of the national Sunrise Movement, I was surprised to find a “local hub” of young climate activists in the community. A couple of days ago, Lilly Shui, a junior at Conestoga High School and one of the leaders of the Sunrise Berwyn hub reached out to me. During the pandemic and TESD school closure last spring, Lilly and another CHS student, junior Aishi Debroy started the Berwyn chapter of the Sunrise Movement. The Berwyn hub has now grown to 60 members, 50 of which are Conestoga High School students.

Students (L-R) Ainsley Payne (CHS), Bella Gilmartin (GV), Anish Garimidi (CHS)

On Saturday, October 31, the Sunrise Berwyn hub hosted their first action to combat voter suppression at the Chester County Government Services Center in West Chester. The Sunrise Berwyn press release read in part, “… members of Sunrise Berwyn have been watching the news and reading articles about voter suppression in Pennsylvania … They read about how the Supreme Court struggled to uphold the ruling of a Pennsylvania court that would allow mail-in ballots to be counted up to three days after Election Day. They listened to the frustrations of their friends and family about how mail-in ballots would be their only option to vote because of the ongoing pandemic.” According to the press release, the Sunrise Berwyn members, “… were scared for their futures”.

Conestoga HS students (L-R) Lavanya Ahluwalia, Aishi Debroy, Anish Garimidi, Bella Gilmartin (Great Valley HS), Lena Pothier, Clara Steege, Katie Chuss, Lilly Shui, Ainsley Payne, Hanna Monteith, Jonathan Siah

With the support of sixteen Sunrise Berwyn members on Saturday, the leadership deemed their first “hub” demonstration a success. For further information about the Sunrise Movement and the local Berwyn hub, email

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  1. Thank you to all the Sunrise Berwyn members for standing up for our community and the general well-being of the nation. Young leaders like you are the cornerstone to our future. It is refreshing in this divisive time to find youth shouting out about the well-being of the planet.

  2. To all the Sunshiners: It’s your future your country and (inherited) environment too. Go for it, all of it. Thank you for your efforts.

  3. Is this “sunrise Berwyn”movement a grass roots Berwyn CHS initiative ? Or is it related to the “Sunrise Movement”?

    1. Sunrise Berwyn is one of the 400+ hubs nationwide of the Sunrise Movement. CHS students Lilly Shui and Aishi Debroy started the Berwyn chapter of the Sunrise Movement last spring during the pandemic.

  4. Wonderful initiative! We’re proud to know local students are so dedicated to an improved future. I look forward to my children will following your lead!

  5. The World is A Globe—Not flat.
    I applaud the students who are seeking a cause to help improve our country and community. However, they may be mislead. After all, the world is a globe, it’s not flat. Since the 1970’s US has drastically reduced its CO2 emissions. How? Manufacturing jobs have gone to Mexico, India & China. Those countries now spew pollution into the atmosphere…which travels to America.

    Scientists have stated,America could reach Zero emotions but Still need fossil fuels—Why? Because,unfortunately, Solar and Wind power does NOT generate enough power to heat our homes, cool our malls and power our electric cars. Here, listen to MICHAEL MOORE’s latest documentary on the subject….Michael Moore is Not a climate denier.

  6. I agree it’s great for the students to get involved with their community. However, they may be mislead. After all, CO2 emissions have drastically been reduced at a steady rate since the 1970’’s in America. That’s when there was a great push to rid America of manufacturing jobs that polluted. Where did those dirty manufacturing jobs go? Mexico, India & China…..still causing pollution to the world’s atmosphere….after all, the world is not flat.

    Having clean, renewal energy like solar & wind is a great goal. Unfortunately, we are not there—-Yet. Meanwhile, it’s a scientific fact we still need fossil fuels to heat our homes, cool our malls and power our electric cars. The sooner our students realize this fact, the sooner they may become the scientist to invent an energy alternative that will replace coal and oil…..and not just protest to force us to loose our manufacturing jobs to the rest of the world, who continue to pollute.

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