Lauren Jenks ‘Walked the Talk’ by Supporting Youth at Global Strike Walkout

Woman and child with bicycle helmets and sign
Department of Health’s Lauren Jenks accompanies her child, Phillip to the Global Strike Walkout in Olympia Sept. 20, 2019. Photo Courtesy Lauren Jenks

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Washington State Department of Health’s employee news service, “The Daily Dose.”  The views and opinions expressed in all submissions to the ICSEW’s InterAct blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the ICSEW. 

By Cindy Marjamaa, Washington State Department of Health 

On Friday, Sept. 20, Lauren Jenks, the Department of Health’s Director of Environmental Public Health Sciences, escorted her 12-year-old son, Philip, from his middle school to the Washington State Capitol building to participate in the national Global Climate Strike walkout. Though Philip missed school and Lauren took leave from work, they think it’s worth it.  

Philip, and many of his friends, are really worried about climate change. He’s scared that the planet won’t be habitable when he is an adult. Lauren says she’s proud of him for wanting to make a difference and make his voice heard. They’ve been thinking about what they can do to make a difference for the health of the planet, and have been perusing the website for Project Drawdown for ideas. Project Drawdown is a research organization that reviews, analyzes and identifies global climate solutions, according to its website. The organization ranks solutions for policy makers, industry, and individuals. Philip and Lauren have focused on solutions they can do and that they feel are good for the planet.  

For example, they think they can eat less beef, a solution ranked as the most effective way for an individual to reduce their carbon footprint, especially when combined with reducing food waste, according to the organization. They also think they can reduce food waste—it turns out both of Lauren’s kids love “leftover night” because there’s always at least something in the fridge they liked (especially if they had takeout that week!). 

The organization also provides information on reducing carbon emissions. According to Project Drawdown’s analysis, if just 16% of the miles we drive were traveled in an electric-powered vehicle instead of a gas-powered one, it could keep 10 gigatons of carbon emissions out of the air. Philip is walking to school with his friend across the street, Lauren and her daughter Charlie are riding their bikes to school and work—something that’s good both for them and the planet.  

Lauren encourages other Department of Health employees to take some to support these kids, the planet, and our health in whatever ways they can.