By Mariel Uyquiengco
How many children do you know were moved about a social issue and decided to do something about it?
Meet Adrienne Lia Cua, or “Lia” to her family and friends, a 12-year-old homeschooled girl who encourages kids—and grownups—to help reverse the spread of climate change. She started Earth Crew Kids when she was 11 because she read about how all the fish in the world would be gone by 2035. It bothered her so much that so many species and forests are disappearing. “I just decided to take action,” she said.
Little things go a long way to save the earth
Jumpstarting her advocacy with her own website (www.earthcrewkids.wordpress.com), Lia encourages others, especially young kids like herself, to do little things to take care of Earth, like making eco-bricks (plastic bottles stuffed solid with trash to be used as fillers for walls), not using Styrofoam, and ways to use less paper.
With the support of her parents Carl and Maricel Cua—who are also advocates in their own way, being the co-founders and social entrepreneurs behind The Parenting Emporium—Lia officially launched Earth Crew Kids in April 2017 via an event for families. Despite her initial shyness (“At first I was scared,” she shares), she started off the event with a speech about Earth Crew Kids and why she decided to launch it. “I decided to do it in the end not for me or my purposes, but because I wanted to help save the earth,” Lia says.
Environmental activist and artist AG Saño, who is also known as the “Dolphin Guy” for his dolphin street murals in the Philippines, and Maye Padilla, another environment advocate, were the main speakers at the launch. They both encouraged the families present, especially the kids, to do what they could to help save the environment, just like Lia.
The launch attendees were then taught how to make eco-bricks (or bottle bricks) by Lia’s dad, Carl. The event ended with everyone present taking the Earth Crew Kids pledge, and making crafts to remind themselves of their pledge.
Sharing the Earth Crew Kids advocacy in other avenues
In 2017, Lia and her mom Maricel were guests on ANC’s Green Living, where Lia demonstrated how to make eco-bricks as one way to cut down on plastic waste.
In March this year, she was also invited as one of two environment advocates at The Podium Mall’s celebration of Earth Hour. She spoke alongside social entrepreneur Raf Dionisio, proponent of Plastic Solutions, a volunteer movement that turns plastic bottles Into eco-bricks.
With simple efforts such as these, Lia hopes that she is making a difference in the world.
How did Lia become so empowered?
Grownups are usually impressed when they meet Lia. She’s a sweet kid who is doing something about what is important to her. While other kids her age are busy with their gadgets and social media presence, she is trying to encourage other young people to take action and help our earth.
Lia is just one of the growing numbers of children being homeschooled by their parents. Having been educated out in the world (their home, her parents’ business and advocacies) since the beginning, she has never gone to a conventional, brick-and-mortar school. She appreciates that she is able to learn at her own pace and says that having more free time “allows me to do more research on the topics that interest me. It also opened up opportunities for me to found Earth Crew Kids.”
Contrary to popular misconceptions about homeschooled kids and their ability to function in social situations, homeschooled kids, give or take their natural tendencies toward shyness or boldness, are usually well-adjusted individuals. Lia herself believes that socialization is not an issue. She suggests that being enrolled in extra-curricular activities or involved in their parents’ work or business can provide homeschooled kids interaction with people of different ages.
Empowered youth: the hope of our future
Lia believes that baby steps from empowered youth, like her own Earth Crew Kids, can set big things in motion. “Kids can do anything if they set their mind to it and they should not be underestimated,” says this pre-teen.
We’re excited for what Lia and other young but motivated kids can do, not just in the future, but right now, in their own little way. Indeed, “the youth is the hope of our future,” as Dr. José Rizal once said.
Listen to Lia speak in person as she shares how homeschooling helped her look beyond her own needs and desires, and make a difference in the world — join the Philippine Homeschool Convention on Sept. 22, from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City! Joining Lia are international and local speakers who will leave participants inspired, encouraged, and empowered to start or continue their respective homeschooling journeys with even greater passion than before. www.educatingforlife.co