Star billing as student takes reef campaign to the world

A passion to protect the Great Barrier Reef has seen a Nimbin student selected to feature in a climate change documentary, writes Vanessa Lahey.

03 November 2021
A girl swimming with snorkel and mask
Image: Protecting beauty for future generations: Sabyah White snorkels on the reef in this scene from Girls for Future.

A Year 7 student from the Northern Rivers has taken her message to save the Great Barrier Reef to the international stage as a star in a climate change documentary that premiered at the Glasgow COP26 talks.

Nimbin Central School student Sabyah White starred in the “Girls for Future” film with three other young girls from around the globe.

After premiering at the global climate talks now on in Scotland, Girls for Future will also feature in this year’s Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF) line-up.

In the feature-length documentary Sabyah represents the voice of Australia and uses the opportunity to highlight the plight of the Great Barrier Reef.

The movie brings four girls from across the globe together to discuss the planet’s future.

The 13-year-old, who grew up in Airlie Beach in North Queensland, told local media she really hoped people listened to the movie’s message.

“We are the home of the Great Barrier Reef, we really need to be thinking about climate change,” Sabyah said.

It was her relentless commitment to environmental causes that caught a talent scout’s attention.

Sabyah has previously campaigned on issues around climate change at the Great Barrier Reef Festival held at Airlie Beach in Queensland and was an obvious fit for the film.

In the movie, Sabyah thanks her mum for sparking her passion for the environment from the tender age of two.

“Being the daughter of a bushwalker and snorkeller, my mum taught me to snorkel. I got to enjoy exquisite experiences that made me see why we should protect our earth,” Sabyah says.

“I saw the pure beauty [of the reef] and wanted to protect it and make sure future generations could see the Great Barrier Reef.”

Sabyah said there were some simple actions people could take in their daily lives to get behind efforts to clean up the planet.

“There are many things you can do like getting rid of your usage of plastic and switching your electricity to renewable energy. You can also do things like planting a tree and growing a veggie garden which will help reduce your Co2 footprint,” she said.

You can view Girls for Future between November 5-14 as part of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, which features more than 250 films from 40 countries.

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