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Youth-led groups celebrate Earth Day's 50th anniversary by 'chalking out' Sacramento

Socially distanced students took their Earth Day messages to the sidewalks all over Sacramento in place of rallies and tree plantings.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Driving through downtown Sacramento, you might notice some new chalk art in honor of Earth Day.

To raise awareness and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a group of socially-distanced, mask-wearing students from youth-led groups chalked out different Earth Day themed messages all over the city, including the sidewalks around the Capitol, City Hall, Downtown Commons and Old Sacramento.

"This day has been wonderful, not only was it great to reach out to my different friends to get them to do climate change activism, but it was just a beautiful day today," said Selene Martinez, a Sunrise Movement organizer. "It's earth day, it's a beautiful day, it's the 50th anniversary, so it's been very peaceful."

RELATED: Earth Day 2020 | Sacramento celebrates 50 years with chalk art, online activities

This year's Earth Day celebration was a bit different because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sacramento Earth Day, which would have been in its 15th year, was canceled, and the Sacramento chapter of March for Science and Fridays for Future were forced to postpone their planned climate strike.

Martinez said they couldn't hold their usual rally or tree plantings on their college campus because of the coronavirus, so they decided to safely chalk the city with their message instead.

They had multiple groups spread out at different areas of the city at different times of the day, all doing the same thing.

These works of art were created all over the city by youth-led groups like the Sunrise Movement and Fridays for Future Sacramento.

There are more events happening this week, too, many of which will help benefit local organizations who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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A fundraiser for Services Not Sweeps Coalition will be held online on April 23. Money will be raised through an online silent auction and virtual "tip jars." A 12-hour long livestream will be accessible to all starting April 24, and will include education, entertainment, and virtual town halls featuring Q&A sessions with local leaders.

Other Earth Day celebrations have also moved online. Global Earth Day organizers are holding digital events and encouraging people to take action against the climate crisis. 

"I think everyone needs to understand we're sharing this planet, not only with one another right now, but also future generations, too," Martinez said. "And we need to keep that in mind. And the way we are living right now needs to change — it is not sustainable. I think that's the most important thing, is that we're not just doing it for ourselves."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Lena Howland.

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