One of Barbados’ youngest environment protection advocates is calling on residents to be more responsible about how they dispose of their garbage and treat their environment.
Outspoken Maria Marshall, 11, had a special meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Friday at Ilaro Court, where she chatted about some of her plans to help the country fight issues relating to climate change.
This came a day after a UNICEF Voices of Youth video interview of her with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom was shared – a day ahead of World Children’s Day on Friday.
In that interview, while urging people to care for their environment, Marshall spoke of how the pandemic had limited her plans to do more to help protect the ecosystem and spread awareness.
The Harrison College first-former said she believed “if everyone were to give a little note on what their little thought would be to change the world, we would change it”, adding that she was ready and willing to help Barbados fight challenges relating to climate change globally.
The aspiring prosthetist told the Prime Minister it was her hope to get help to inspire many more people to care for the environment.
In fact, Marshall, who said she enjoys the subjects Art and English Literature and describes herself as talkative, said she also hoped to form her own “little army to help fight climate change”.
She said while she was yet to determine how she would go about getting her “troop” of advocates, it was her intention to speak with the principal of her school to have a club dedicated to climate change and the environment where they could get together and share ideas.
“In terms of the environment, we need to protect it. It is only one and we rely on it to keep us afloat,” she said.
“My message would be, ‘we only have one environment and one earth. We need to protect it’,” said the climate change champion.
The former Blackman and Gollop Primary School student said she hoped to produce a video about the protection of the ocean and get people in her school to give tips.
Expressing joy at meeting and sitting with the Prime Minister, Marshall said she did not expect her UNICEF interview to go viral as it did, with people from as far away as China enjoying it.
Maria started her Youtube channel about a year ago – Little Thoughts on Big Matters – geared towards helping people understand how their little ideas impact the bigger picture. It also promotes the idea of reduce, reuse and recycle.
The classical music lover is a NIFCA and UNDP Small Island Future Fest awardee for 2019.
On Friday, she was gifted with an Apple tablet and a “note” in an envelope from Prime Minister Mottley.
Mottley pledged possible air-time on the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Cooperation (CBC TV8) and features with the Government Information Service (GIS).
She also promised to get Marshall an audience with Minister of Maritime Affairs Kirk Humphrey so she could share some thoughts on what she wanted to see done in that Ministry.
Mottley, who said she was happy after seeing the UNICEF video, said Maria reminded her of Barbadian superstar Rihanna, because of the confidence she exudes.
During their less than half-hour conversation, the Prime Minister shared advice with Marshall, encouraging her to always believe in herself and not to lose her “generosity of spirit”.
“Don’t mind how much money you have, when you give of yourself and treat people well that is the greatest gift in life,” said Mottley, who said she believed the young girl is who she is because of the love and care she received from her family.
Maria’s parents, Sarah and Neil, said they were amazed by the work their daughter was doing and the attention she has received over the past couple days.
“I am really proud of Maria. She has done a really wonderful thing and I am glad that her Little Thoughts on Big Matters could reach so many people. So, we are just really, really proud of her,” her mother said.
“To be honest, I am happy for her. It has been an eye-opener. Wow! The only word I could use to describe it is ‘wow’,” added her father.