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Affecting Change: Trent Student Heads to UN Climate Change Conference

Erika Lackey-RuwaldA first-year Trent University Nursing student will travel to Montreal this week to participate in the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference.

Erika Lackey-Ruwald will be one of 80 international youth delegates attending the conference and one of only eight youth delegates under 20 years old.

The event is the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and it will be the first Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol since it came into effect in February 2005.

During the conference, Ms. Lackey-Ruwald will sit with the UN delegates but won't have a vote on any issues that come forward. As well, she will attend a presentation by Canadian scientist David Suzuki, who will be addressing the COP 11 delegates.

Prior to the conference, which runs from November 28 to December 9, Ms. Lackey-Ruwald will be a member of the COP 11 Youth Summit from November 24 to 28.

Ms. Lackey-Ruwald also will be one of 10 youth to participate in a Students On Ice (SOI) four-day field trip to the conference from December 5 to 8. Ms. Lackey-Ruwald has visited both the Arctic and Antarctica through SOI's field trips to the Polar Regions.

SOI's activities at the conference will include presentations on the Students On Ice Arctic Youth Expedition, speaking to media about the students' Arctic experience and attending presentations and workshops with some of the world's leading experts in glaciology, environmental studies, geology, international development and politics.

Ms. Lackey-Ruwald, is a passionate advocate for the environment. She says she has always been interested in the environment and, in particular, the effects of climate change.

"I grew up with that mindset of looking at the big picture and how it affects people. It's always been a part of my life."

In her last two years of high school, Ms. Lackey-Ruwald wrote and defended a thesis on climate change based on her Polar voyages. She plans to further her research on climate change and build on her thesis while at Trent at the same time as pioneering a new field of health care - environmental nursing.

"In nursing you often treat the symptom but not the problem. I want to try to prevent health problems," she says. For example, this could include research into how asthma could be linked to climate change.

Currently there is a bulk of information from an environmental studies perspective on health but it doesn't go the other way, she says. "There are no nurses studying the environment."

Through Nursing, Ms. Lackey-Ruwald hopes to make people understand and care about the effects of climate change.

"Climate change is vague so it's hard to get people to care," she says. But something as simple as putting a can in the recycling bin all the way up to the extreme of buying a Smart Car can help slow climate change, she says.

Photo: First-year Nursing student Erika Lackey-Ruwald

Posted November 23, 2005


































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