Summer is reaching its final stretches, and between vacations ending and school being on the horizon for many, it is a great opportunity to recognize an incredible youth leader (who may or may not be dreading school starting again soon!). We are thrilled to be honoring Elijah Molina-Moton as the Climate Hero of the Month of August!

Elijah just recently turned 11 years old, and he began his activism just a few years ago when he was nine. He used his voice and spoke for the first time at Ecofest in Commerce City in July 2021 about his experience living close to Suncor. His tía, 350CO Frontline Community Organizer and incredible human being, Lucy Molina, helped facilitate the opportunity. She was one of the primary organizers of the event, and having him step into such a new space in front of his community was not only empowering, but the start of something great.

It wasn’t very long before Elijah got involved again, and having a supportive network to do so makes a big difference!

In March 2022 he then participated in Informate: Know the Impacts of Air Quality and Your Health, a panel and workshop in Elyria-Swansea that was conducted in both Spanish and English for attendees. By this point he was already speaking like a seasoned organizer! And after the event was over, he was also a part of the clean-up crew, helping pack things up alongside others.  It was clear he really wanted to be a part of the action, no matter how mundane it may seem – it all matters, and many hands make light work.

“That was the first time I met Elijah,” said Chelsea Alexander, Movement Building & Volunteer Director. “He was so much fun to be around, and not really shy at all! Especially to speak in front of a room of 20+ people and do it so well.”

Fast forward to March 2023, and Elijah also spoke at the Reimagining a Safe & Healthy Future community brainstorm and event at the Eagle Pointe Recreation Center in Commerce City. In front of his community and reporters from multiple news agencies, Elijah again spoke bravely about what it’s like to live close to a refinery that is known for spewing toxic chemicals. He shared about his asthma that he has to manage from day to day and how he hopes that he can one day live in a world where the air he breathes is free of harmful pollutants.

Elijah was even quoted directly a week later in an article by Westword, saying “I’m ten years old, and I get it that there is a climate crisis. … I would like to see a playground here for all of us to play, or maybe a zoo, or Disneyland.” Speaking a vision out loud really does help bring it to life.

Just a few weeks after the event, for the second time in a month, Suncor had another incident of accidentally releasing significant amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) into the air. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment warned residents in the area to stay inside, which unfortunately is nothing new to Elijah and those that live in Commerce City and suffer from the correlated symptoms of exposure to toxic air pollution; nosebleeds, migraines, and more. One of the many reasons we must continue to demand better and make sure that those that are most impacted are heard.

On a more uplifting note, just in the last couple of months another environmental group wanted to meet Elijah! EcoMadres is a part of Moms Clean Air Force, a national organization, and a group from Virginia were visiting here and wanted to meet with him as they had heard of his activism and community work. Another incredible example of how what can seem like small ripples turning into larger waves of impact.

An additional important note to include in this; there are very likely other things that Elijah has done, or is doing, to advocate for clean air and a justice-based transition from fossil fuels. And as a kid still, it’s equally important that he also has lots of time to not worry about stuff like this and just have fun!

Activism isn’t what’s just happening at big events or community forums. It’s the conversations we are having with others. The reminders we might share with our teachers, or friends, or book club members, urging them to join in these efforts. It’s how we carry ourselves from day to day and stay committed to our values, and we could not be more proud of how Elijah has continued to show up for himself, his community, and all of our futures!

So when he’s not advocating for his community and can do other things that he enjoys, he posts on TikTok, spends time his family, and does a fantastic job memorizing all of the lyrics to movies like ‘Encanto’.


A small story to wrap things up. Lucy interviewed with RMPBS earlier this year, talking about the health impacts that the Commerce City community, and others, have experienced from Suncor’s minimally regulated pollution. Her advice for people? “Don’t wait for me, don’t wait for anybody to come and save you. If you see something that is wrong and that might impact your family and the health, and education, and the future of your family and your community, step it up. You can do that, you can be that person.”

“If you see something wrong, speak up – testify, show up at spaces where you can advocate for yourself, and your family, and your community.” Couldn’t say it better than that. Basically, be like Elijah! Use your voice and your care for this planet to be an activist that shows up as much as they can in the ways that you can. Thank you so much Elijah for your leadership and continued hard work to make the world a better place! Your advocacy is a critical part of the climate movement.


Want to be our next Climate Hero of the month? Join the climate movement and shine with your unique skills! Email