STF Leader Spotlight:Maya W.

18 California children argued in U.S. District Court that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discounts the value of children’s lives and the safety harms they’re already suffering will get worse as the climate continues to warm.

STF leader, Maya W., is one of the 18 plaintiffs asking for the Court’s help in stopping EPA from continuing to allow life-threatening levels of fossil fuel climate pollution and phase out fossil fuel pollution no later than 2050. Continue reading to learn more about Maya’s experience at STF and her role in the Gensis v. EPA California lawsuit.

Name: Maya W.

Chapter: Santa Monica HS

Graduation Year: 2024

STF Title: President

STF Member Since: Fall 2020

STF Team: Why did you join STF?

Maya: I joined in August 2020 at the start of my freshman year. I was very shy and introverted, and I had no idea how to use my voice to create change in my community. I’ve grown so much as a leader in the last four years thanks to STF.

STF Team: You are one of 18 plaintiffs for the Genesis v. EPA federal lawsuit. Describe your experience so far.

Maya: The process has been very educational. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of federal court proceedings. I’ve never felt as empowered as an activist as when I heard our attorney, Julia Olson, present our argument. As a young person, it is slightly disheartening to see the lengths to which agencies and administrations will go to silence our concerns regarding the climate crisis. It’s unfortunate that the only way that we can get our government to listen to us is by suing them. That being said, I have hope that the court will rule in favor of protecting the constitutional rights of children to life and equal protection of the law.

STF Team: What accomplishments as a part of STF are you most proud of?

Maya: My proudest STF moment was getting my school district to transition to 100% renewable energy after years of campaigning and collecting petition signatures. It was a long process, and it took a couple of generations of STF leaders, but we finally made it happen last year! I’m also looking forward to delivering the petition signatures that my school collected to Congressman Ted Lieu later this month to urge him to oppose deadly deterrence policies.

STF Team: What are some of your greatest takeaways from STF so far?

Maya: I’m so much more secure in my public speaking and how to interact with elected officials and people in power in order to make change happen. Leadership is about giving others the space and encouragement they need to make a difference in their communities. Leadership is a never-ending learning process, but I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside my chapter these last few years and do some cool things for human rights.

STF Leaders Maya W. and Dani R. are plaintiffs in the case against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Click here to read more about their first hearing in court. Photo by Our Children’s Trust

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