AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Making the world a better place was on the mind of students at Fort River Elementary Tuesday afternoon.

Sixth graders at Fort River held a panel discussion on youth activism and climate change. The panel was part of the sixth grade’s Civic Literacy Unit, which students have tried to answer the question, “How does social change happen?”

Panelists included teen activists from the Sunrise Movement — which is an organization that advocates political action on climate change.

Congressman Jim McGovern, as well as local radio host Monte Belmonte, were also on the panel. The panelists spoke about their work and the importance for young people to have a voice.

“These young people are 100 percent of our future. They care about this planet and about this country and about this world,” Congressman McGovern told 22News. “I learn from them and I hope when this is all over, they understand how important it is to be heard.”

Students also voiced their concerns about changing the Massachusetts state flag. One sixth-grader thinks the current flag contains imagery that conveys a violent view towards Native Americans. 

The students are working to pass legislation in the statehouse that changes the flag.

Congressman Mcgovern also spoke at UMass Tuesday night, to students on a variety of topics.

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