Franklin County sophomore Arantza Valladares-Valles is passionate about climate change, leading her to work with the Frankfort chapter of the Kentucky Youth Climate Strike.

With Climate Strike, Valladares-Valles is part of the communications and outreach program for Climate Strike, which works with social media outlets, press, email and editorial content to publicize the organization’s goals, increase its community and engage with its audience.

“The outreach part of our program includes partnerships, expansion and general outreach in places like schools, businesses, you name it,” she said. “In climate strike, everyone is part of the bigger picture, so we appreciate the help we get from our members.”

For her work with Climate Strike, Valladares-Valles has been selected as the WesBanco Student of the Week.

Climate Strike is not the only organization in which she is involved. Valladares-Valles is part of the FCHS Young Democrats Club, Beta Club and Y Club. She’s also part of the state organization Kentucky Teen Court, where teens can learn about the law and courtroom procedures through real-world experiences.

She’s a member of the FCHS volleyball and track teams.

A member of Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Valladares-Valles participates in clubs such as Rosary Club and Youth Life at the church.

She is the daughter of Raquel Valles and Ismael Valladares.

SJ: How did you become involved in Climate Strike?

Valladares-Valles: I first became involved in Climate Strike during my freshman year, when my older sister and I became involved in Natalie Dufour’s first strike back in September of 2019. I had always been very interested in climate change since middle school when my two good friends and I would work on resolutions for KUNA (a model UN conference).

We researched for hours building up our resolutions about the ongoing climate crisis, and ever since we have been concerned for its effect. After the 2019 Climate Strike, I wasn’t involved in many city or state themed chapters until May of this year when Natalie reached out to me about the Frankfort chapter. Since then I’ve been a part of Frankfort Youth Climate Strike, as well as the state chapter, and it’s been a lot of fun and I hope to be a part of it for a while.

SJ: Why do you think the work of Climate Strike is so important?

Valladares-Valles: I think the work of Climate Strike is important because we are the future generation. Most of the people that I know and are involved in the Frankfort chapter can’t vote. I am one of them, and it’s worrying that in the future, the world we know today won’t be the same.

I’ve made tons of signs over climate strike and one of my favorite quotes is that “There Is No Planet B,” and it’s very true. We must learn to work with professionals, work with science, stay informed and practice sustainability.

Our voices need to be heard, because we will eventually be the ones in charge. If those representing us aren’t taking action now, there won’t be much we can do. That’s why it’s important for young voices to be heard, especially in pressing times like these. Our climate strike chapter along with others nationwide work with representatives, media and the public to try to reach out to others about the ongoing crisis.

SJ: What would you like to see the organization accomplish?

Valladares-Valles: I would like to see our organization accomplish one of our biggest goals, which is to reach 100% renewable energy in Frankfort by 2030. It’s a big challenge that we are willing to take, and I can’t wait to see it come true. I hope that in the coming year or so we will have all Frankfort schools join the National Green Schools Association, and work on educating students about the climate crisis and what we can do as well.

SJ: What is your favorite subject at school and why?

Valladares-Valles: My favorite subject at school is English. I love reading and writing, and I’ve been blessed with great English teachers throughout the years that encourage me to be a better student.

SJ: What would you like to do when you graduate from high school?

Valladares-Valles: When I graduate from Franklin County High School, I plan to attend university in state or out of state to study law and political science. Although I haven’t decided which field of law I would like to go in yet and whether to minor or major in one or the other, I have a general idea that I will go into criminal law, civil rights law, environmental law or immigration law. In the future I hope to be a successful lawyer and constantly work to make my community a better place.

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