The 'Climate Art for Congress' Project Empowers Kids to Speak Up For the Planet

All students can join, using art to urge representatives to take climate action.

child writing a letter
A child writes and illustrates a letter.

Climate Art for Congress

Children and youth often feel they do not have a voice when it comes to the climate crisis. Too young to vote, their opinions and concerns lack a formal route to reach the ears of politicians making decisions on their behalf. The Climate Museum, which is the first museum in the United States dedicated to the climate crisis and mobilizing action on it, wants to change that with a new initiative called Climate Art for Congress (CAFC). 

CAFC guides K-12 students through a process of learning about the climate crisis (using this video curriculum), researching their senators and representatives and their stances on environmental issues, and then creating drawings and letters expressing the students' concerns. The Climate Museum uploads these letters to its website and prints color hard copies that are sent to members of Congress. It is, in other words, a science, art, and civics project, all in one.

Samantha Goldstein, a spokesperson for the Climate Museum, tells Treehugger: "CAFC was first launched in 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as a way for young people to tell their representatives about the importance of including climate action in any economic recovery legislation. A lot about the world and the potential for bold federal climate action has changed since we first launched, so we are relaunching the campaign this month with new resources for teachers, students, and young learners." 

letters from children
Letters sent by children to representatives.

Climate Art for Congress

Over 500 letters have been sent since April 2020. Goldstein adds, "In some cases students wrote one letter directed to both of their senators and their congressperson in which case we printed and mailed the letter three times." Submissions have come from 16 states so far, and the campaign hopes to reach every state before long.

Parents, children, and educators have found that drawing and writing these letters has made them feel better about the climate crisis. An art teacher in Brooklyn, New York, said,

"Reaching out to politicians is an empowering way for [students] to take action with what they care about. I submitted several of my second graders' art in May-June after they had expressed themselves about endangered animals. A parent wrote to me last week to tell me how proud his child was to discover his 'goat' on [the Climate Museum's] website!"

Karina, mother to 8-year-old Max, told the Climate Museum, "Learning is about kids being engaged and active and Climate Art for Congress is an experiential learning opportunity that really connects what they see around them and what they’re experiencing in their own lives and enabling them to take action."

The drawings and letters are lovely, with short descriptions of the places where children live and how climate inaction could affect them. They are personal, quirky, and engaging. The campaign's emphasis on education — both in terms of learning about the climate crisis and researching representatives' own promises — gives them real substance and relevance.

letters by children

Climate Art for Congress

This is an exercise that, no doubt, will stay with the children and teens long after the letters have been sent. It's an important skill to teach kids to dig into topics that concern them and to voice their opinions to leaders who can perhaps make a difference. CFAC is open to whoever wants to participate. This could be a nice addition to whatever at-home schooling your child may be doing. Learn more here.