Meet Stella Bowles, a Canadian teenager who single handedly convinced the Canadian government to clean up the LaHave River after years of unchecked sewage contamination—and she’s only 14 years old! Much like another teen icon shaking up governments, Greta Thunberg
Stella Bowles started a project to understand the depths of the contamination and encouraged people around her to change, and although she won a silver medal at her school science fair, she earned first place in her age group at the International Young Eco-Hero Awards in 2018.
Bowles was actually 11 when she first began studying the river, located near her home in Nova Scotia. She wasn’t interested in it from a scientific perspective initially. All she wanted was to swim in the river, but her mother Andrea Conrad always told her no. Bowles didn’t understand why until she heard Conrad reference neighbors using straight pipes. The straight pipes meant that the sewage and wastewater were dumped into the river without prior filtration.
Bowles took the water contamination test personally. Completely unaware of the health threats it posed, she posted her findings to the Facebook page to spread the word on social media and erected a sign right by the river. “This River Is Contaminated With Fecal Bacteria,” it read.
Later testing revealed that 600 straight pipes were sending sewage into the river, and the government was doing very little to change that. But Bowles kept crusading, eventually installing a second sign that warned, “600+ Homes Flush Their Toilets Directly Into This River.” Her efforts built local awareness and finally, the Canadian government announced a $15.7 million in funding to clean up the LaHave River. The pledge includes plans to replace all the straight pipes by 2023.
Bowles later turned her experience into a book, co-authored with Anne Laurel Carter. It’s called My River: Cleaning Up the LaHave River, and it’ll debut this September. Bowles dreams of it becoming part of Nova Scotia school curriculums in the future. But for now, she hopes her story inspires young people to take up a cause, no matter how difficult it seems.
“I am learning the importance of our oceans, and how my generation has to lead the way to reverse the damage us humans have caused. I hope I am inspiring youth to become environmental activists with my story. Kids can make a difference and actually HAVE to step up now. It’s crisis time, ” said Stella. Its a word that is being used by another kid making waves, Greta Thunberg, who reminded the world that the crisis is now, and its time to panic on climate change, not make ‘plans’.
Bowles has turned her experience into a book, co-authored with Anne Laurel Carter. It’s called My River: Cleaning Up the LaHave River, and it’ll debut in September 2018. Bowles dreams of it becoming part of Nova Scotia school curriculums in the future. But for now, she hopes her story inspires young people to take up a cause, no matter how difficult it seems.
Picture credit: Facebook