Pattye Benson

Community Matters

climate crisis

“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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