These in-their-own-words pieces are told to Patricia Lane and co-edited with input from the interviewee for the purpose of brevity.

McKenna Corvello helps youth become resilient in the face of climate change. This 23-year-old Carleton University master’s student works for Mochi4thePlanet, researching strategies for cultivating hope in young people and applying that evidence in toolkits, books, social media content and, eventually, a video game.

Tell us about your project.

Our goal is to equip the next generation to be emotionally resilient climate leaders. We have published research on emotions that predict climate action, and we research coping strategies for climate anxiety that promote engagement and mental health. Our tools and resources for children, their parents, and educators allow them to take advantage of the research findings.

Climate change is complex and so are emotions. Media coverage is at best confusing. Our social media campaign #mochi4theplanet combines evidence and the power of story to equip children and youth with purpose, agency, and responsibility to care for the planet.

McKenna Corvello helps #youth become resilient in the face of #climatechange. The 23-year-old Carleton University master’s student works for #Mochi4thePlanet, researching strategies for cultivating #hope in young people.

Our children’s book Kibou's Light is available for free to download or on Amazon. It tells the story of the planet Kibou where “Mochis,” cute bubble-shaped creatures with expressive eyes, live. When climate change threatens the Mochis’ blissful existence on Kibou, we follow their journey from avoidance and denial to learning mindfulness and empathy, and taking collective action, such as cleaning their oceans, planting trees and recycling to protect their home. The book reflects our research that avoidance and denial harbour negative emotions, but awareness of the potential impact of collective action builds resilience.

Our video game tells the story of Mochi “Ki,” who must leave his megacity to find his missing friend. In a forest and a village, he meets creatures who have learned to live in balance with nature and finds hope in the process.

How did you get involved in this project?

I was searching for a thesis to complete my bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology but was uninspired by the topic. By chance, I met Professor Stefania Maggi who invited me to consider working with her #mochi4theplanet project. At first, I was unsure, as I knew nothing about climate psychology, but as I looked deeper, I began to believe I could make a difference. Now I am working toward a masters degree and I feel a greater sense of meaning in my life.

What makes your work hard?

Sometimes it can be difficult to see we are making an impact. The problems are huge. Ours is an important contribution with many great ideas and a wonderful team, but it is still only one project.

What keeps you awake at night?

I sometimes wonder how I will be able to raise children in this time of climate crisis. But I have learned that having these doubts and fears is adaptive and normal. These concerns are part of my motivation to do my part to make the world safer.

What gives you hope?

When I see stories in the media about progress being made, I feel hopeful. I believe decision-makers are influenced by grassroots determination. I am heartened when projects that foster hope are well funded.

McKenna Corvello and her parents at her graduation at Carleton University. Photo submitted by McKenna Corvello

Did the way you were raised influence where you are today?

I am from Dryden in northwestern Ontario, where people live deeply connected to nature. At first, I didn’t feel that I could make a difference, so I chose a field unrelated to climate change. When I began working with Mochi4Planet, I returned home and talked to my family and community mental health practitioners. I found that climate distress is very prevalant, and it became clear to me that this was a way I could help.

What do you see if we get this right?

Raising the next generation as responsible, emotionally resilient, climate action leaders.

What would you like to say to other young people?

The Lorax is right: Unless someone like you

Cares an awful lot

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

The upside is that doing things with others reduces loneliness, improves mental health and boosts your impact. It is a long journey. Take care of yourself. Practice mindfulness. Spend time in nature.

What about older readers?

Think about a young person you know. Listen attentively to their feelings toward the crisis. Let them know you want to understand their viewpoint. Validate their emotions and offer support for their actions.