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Athletics to Activism: Junior Loppet Students from North Minneapolis Head to Capitol for Clean Energy & Climate Action Day

Minneapolis, MN — As part of the Loppet Foundation’s youth outreach strategy, a contingent of Junior Loppet Leaders was recently developed. The primary goal of the Junior Loppet Leaders group is to empower the middle school students to achieve excellence not just as athletes, but as leaders in their communities, state, and world.

Their top priority: addressing climate change. Junior Loppet Leaders from Franklin, Anwatin, and Northeast middle schools made their way to the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday to demonstrate, speak with legislators, and make their voices heard. Students met with legislators including Senators Bobby Joe Champion, Karin Housley, Foung Hawj, and Attorney General Keith Ellison to learn about the legislative process and other causes that matter to them like stand your ground laws and the Upper Harbor Terminal project.

“It was nice to see that important people like Keith Ellison and Bobby Jo Champion aren’t that different or scary. I liked the stories I heard about people from all sorts of backgrounds making a difference,” said Gold Le, Junior Loppet captain and 8th grader at Northeast Middle School. “I feel more able to participate in the political process and make a difference in my community.”

The Junior Loppet Leadership Team’s visit to the Capitol was the first in many action days for this group. Program officers at the Loppet Foundation hope that trips like these will continue to strengthen the work of the Junior Loppet program, inspiring the youth they serve to be both great athletes and good people.

“Many people see the goals of our organization as centered around sport, but this visit was a prime example of what we’re really about,” said Anthony Taylor, Adventures Director of the Loppet Foundation. “Seeing these young people taking civic action on climate change was exciting for me. There was this moment where our students got to see how their connections with nature and each other have these much bigger implications, and that clearly inspired a sense of ownership and responsibility in them.”

The Junior Loppet program is a year-round after-school program for middle schoolers to get outdoors and active through activities like mountain biking, cross-country skiing, trail running, and paddling. Working through Minneapolis Public Schools, the program serves 75-100 North Minneapolis youth every year.