When it comes to climate change today’s youth are demonstrating true strategic capacity in the pursuit of long-term, sustainable goals, while ensuring requisite change starts today. This is particularly true of Blythe Wieclawek, a Grade 10 student at Twin Lakes Secondary School and active member of Sustainable Orillia’s Youth Council. Blythe believes in taking responsibility and doing everything she can to ensure that our world remains healthy and sustainable. She speaks convincingly of the importance of taking action today to protect our planet for tomorrow. In this regard Blythe is an excellent role model, for her fellow youth and all generations. Sustainable Orillia is pleased to profile of Blythe, hoping it underscores the need for all of us to do more on behalf of our environment and a healthier future for all our young people.
Since joining Sustainable Orillia’s Youth Council last September, Blythe has been an energetic contributor to the Council’s agenda. In her capacity as one of the council’s vice-presidents Blythe is spearheading plans for a comprehensive one-day Sustainable Simcoe Youth Conference. The conference will highlight sustainable practices, offering leadership and learning opportunities for hundreds of local youth. It will also be a forum for young people to form connections and relationships that will amplify their voice and generate more support for their movement. The event is planned for May 2022 and is tentatively set to be held at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus. It’s a complex undertaking involving sourcing speakers, setting the agenda and logistics, plus promoting and ensuring maximum participation from across the region – responsibilities that Blythe has taken on with conviction.
Blythe gives credit to her family for both her vision and values. She learned to appreciate and protect the environment at an early age and growing up in a farm environment instilled a deep love of gardening and nature. Blythe has many interests and talents with competitive swimming being her major passion. Blythe has been active in the sport since she was eight. She is a member of Orillia’s Channel Cats and can be found in the pool four mornings a week, which says a great deal about her work ethic and self-discipline, although loving the sport must help as well. Blythe attributes many life lessons to swimming including hard work, independence and the ability to use feedback. Her only disappointment in the pool came from disruption COVID-19 brought to her competitive schedule. Last spring Blythe was achieving times in the pool that would qualify her for the Junior Olympic Trials, however the trials were cancelled and it will be a while before she’ll be able to vie again for the opportunity. Impressively, despite the disappointment, Blythe remains committed to her sport and will keep training with a view to making it happen once things open up again.
Blythe also plans to solidify her academic plans over the next year, noting that she has begun to enjoy the sciences more of late. Wherever she goes for post-secondary education competitive swimming will be an important factor in her decision because Blythe intends to swim varsity. Blythe is also a musician, and has played the piano since she was five. She currently plays clarinet in the school band and recently taught herself the guitar, which she is enjoying very much. Not surprisingly, Blythe sees travel in her future as well. She is fascinated by different ecosystems and says, “honestly, I would love to see it all – deserts, tundra, rain forests, and volcanoes, while meeting people all along the route.”
Before signing off in our conversation, Blythe took a moment to promote the youth council and to encourage fellow students to join the Council. She stressed that everyone is welcome and can take whatever role, large or small they wish. It is a great venue to learn important long-term skills and Blythe sees the Council as a group of like-minded people, working together to make the world better for the environment.
It’s important work and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Our hope at Sustainable Orillia is that readers will be inspired by the energy and commitment Blythe and fellow Youth Council members bring to the pursuit of sustainability. Sustainable Orillia is deeply appreciative of the work Blythe and all her colleagues on the Youth Council are doing. We share their determination to protect their future and our planet.