Carly Breault’s passion for social justice and environmental issues drives her to do crazy things at times.
The Nanaimo Christian School graduate showed up for classes one day in bare feet because she read that children in some developing countries have to walk for miles without footwear to attend school because they cannot afford shoes.
Her feet were raw by the end of the day, but Breault felt it was worth it to make her point, adding that she was used to getting cut up from gardening.
Ever since she was little, she’s helped her father in the garden and she got seriously involved in recent years.
Together they grow all kinds of fruit, vegetables and flowers in their backyard.
“We have a whole grocery store in our backyard,” she said. “I love dirt, I love bugs.”
Breault hopes to get coming generations of students at the school interested in organic vegetable gardening. Last year she fundraised, used her own money and secured donations of materials and labour from classmates, community members and school staff to put a community garden behind her school.
“I keep my brother in mind a lot and the younger generation,” said Breault. “I want them to grow up not afraid of bugs and supporting the local food movement.”
Breault also put compost bins in every classroom to reduce the amount of waste produced at the school and she collected the bins every week.
She tries to set an example for others by doing something each day that benefits rather than harms the environment.
Breault walks or bikes everywhere and during Bike to Work Week, she also managed to get about a dozen of her peers to bike as well.
“We depend on [the environment] to keep us alive,” she said. “We live in an altered system and we’re so used to being comfortable. We kind of take things for granted.”
She writes about environmental issues in her blog – Small Impact Teen – and in the Mind’s Eye, a local youth newspaper.
Besides her environmental activities, Breault kept herself busy with numerous projects as secretary of the Nanaimo Interact Club, a youth Rotary group, volunteering at the Crisis Pregnancy Centre and helping to organize a youth arts festival.
She also writes poetry on the side and has been published in several poetry magazines.
She will attend Vancouver Island University this fall with a full-ride scholarship to do a double major in global studies and geography.
Graham de Greef, a math and science teacher, said Breault’s efforts have had an impact on other students.
“People are thinking about simple things like turning lights off,” he said.