Every year Puget Soundkeeper’s Inspiration Award recognizes a local leader, individual or group that inspires others to take action for clean water. Our Youth Inspiration Award is specifically given to a youth-led organization, whose work to protect our waterways includes, empowers, and inspires youth to take charge of their future by being active participants in protecting the health of their marine environment. We are pleased to announce the 2020 Inspiration Award recipients:
Senator Mona Das and the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps!
Since joining the legislature in 2018, Senator Mona Das has proven herself an environmental champion willing to roll up her sleeves and get to work to protect the health of Puget Sound’s critical ecosystems and diverse communities. She was the primary sponsor of the Reusable Bag Act, which passed this past year, and will ban thin film single-use plastic bags in Washington starting January 2021. She’s also leading the charge on the Styrofoam Ban Bill that will, when passed, ban Styrofoam food containers, packing peanuts and coolers. These are two of Soundkeeper’s top legislative priorities, as they will help stop marine debris from polluting our waterways.
While we work with many environmental champions in Olympia who deserve support and recognition, Senator Das has also made a mark for her work on housing, transportation, equity, and environmental justice. Senator Das championed the HEAL act in 2020, which will, if passed, define and commit state agencies to adopt a mission of environmental justice; require agencies to use environmental health disparity data to inform decisions about enforcement, investments, and policy; and decrease environmental health inequities in communities across our state. Senator Das has demonstrated a commitment to solidarity and racial justice through her advocacy on dozens of bills that advance racial equity policy in Washington State. Her work highlights the singular truth that social justice issues are environmental issues.
The Duwamish Valley Youth Corps engages youth in environmental education – specifically around water and air quality – and community service, providing paid training and work experience for students ranging in age from 13-18 years old. In 2019, the Youth Corps completed a Moss Study documenting the impacts of metal pollution in the Duwamish Valley and participated in a Save the Clean Water Act letter writing workshop facilitated by Puget Soundkeeper, as part of deepening their understanding on federal legislation affecting the health of the Duwamish River and other local waterways. Since then, the youth have facilitated community discussions on climate change and environmental justice issues that impact communities in the Duwamish Valley. The Youth Corps is a great example of how young people are taking the lead in safeguarding the communities they call home.
Join us in celebrating their accomplishments at a special online presentation during our weeklong Salute to the Sound Virtual Gala & Online Auction, October 19-23, 2020!