NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer live coverage of the events Friday morning and afternoon. Watch live in the player above.
Hundreds of young activists took to Chicago street Friday calling for climate change action as millions prepare to do the same around the world in a day of demonstrations.
A "climate change strike" began in Chicago’s Grant Park Friday morning with students from schools across multiple suburbs calling for change. At the same time youth activists also walked out of their schools to “demand our leaders take immediate action to address the climate crisis.”
The Grant Park gathering at Columbus Drive and Roosevelt Road then spawned a march to Federal Plaza where a rally featuring performances and speeches was scheduled.
Participants were encouraged to go from there to the city’s Field Museum, which is hosting a free admission day for Illinois residents.
“All people are welcome to participate, but this movement is really about the young people,” Emily Graslie, chief curiosity correspondent at the Field Museum and keynote speaker at Friday’s downtown rally, said in a statement. “They are the ones calling on adults and world leaders to take action on climate change.”
Among the schools walking out of class Friday was Trinity High School in River Forest.
There, students lined the sidewalks on Division and Lathrop Avenue with posters supporting climate change action.
Millions were expected to join planned demonstrations in Europe, Africa, South America and the United States, where organizers say more than 800 events are expected Friday ahead of a U.N. climate summit in New York.
The worldwide protests are partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly demonstrations under the heading "Fridays for Future" over the past year, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change.
“I am striking because I refuse to sit and watch as our leaders refuse to take action to save our futures again and again," Isabella Johnson, state director for the IL Youth Climate Strike, said in a statement. "I am striking because I will not accept climate change as an unsolvable problem. I am striking because my generation (and future generation’s) lives depend on it."