Wilmington student leads the fight against climate change

WILMINGTON, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Victor Jimenez wants to make a difference in his close-knit community of Wilmington.

"Living in this community of Wilmington, we have three oil refineries, the freeway, the Port of LA, and all of those nasty trucks that release carbon emissions," said the high school senior. "It's living in this type of community that changed my mindset to make sure no other communities are impacted."

When Victor was five years old, his father died of lung cancer.

"He never smoked a cigarette once in his life," he said. "It's all of this pollution that creates health issues with people in my community."

Victor is a student at Dr. Richard A. Vladovic Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy, where he has developed a passion for environmental science.

"He's really smart," said biology teacher, William Sato. "He's had this interest in being able to have an impact on the environment."

Earlier this month, Sato and Jimenez took a trip to Copenhagen to attend the C40 World Mayor's Summit. The annual climate action conference assembles leaders from over 90 cities around the world.

Jimenez is part of the Mayor's Youth Council on Climate Action.

"I was part of the youth delegates program that was involved in sharing ideas and experiences," he said.

The aspiring environmental engineer's success does not stop there. Recently, he led a team of students in LAUSD's 'Heroes for Zero' competition, an initiative to reduce energy consumption, maximize energy efficiency and educate LAUSD students and staff.

"With the competition, there was a grand prize of $25,000 and our team won first place and that money was used to buy a FloWater machine," said Jimenez.

The FloWater machine is a water bottle refill station.

"It's refrigerator water and it's filtered so basically it's our attempt to reduce the amount of plastic usage in our school," said Sato.

In less than three months, the water station has saved over 3,000 plastic bottles from the landfill.

"In the future, I hope people are more open to changing their habits," Jimenez said. "You need to be willing to take that extra step to make sure your action doesn't impact others."

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