A Profile of LEAP, the League of Environmental and Animal Protection

The LEAP Club at Bronx Science shows the community how we can become part of the change towards a greener earth.


Olivia Wronski

Emmaa Afful ’22, president of the LEAP club, sees the potential of environmental activism. “I think LEAP demonstrates that there’s a way for everyone to contribute to large scale issues. While the effect might not be felt globally, changing even your school or one person’s mindset is just as impactful,” Afful said.

California’s forests are burning down. In the first three months of 2022 alone, there have been 428 fires that have ravaged 5,161 acres of land. The glaciers at the poles are melting faster than ever before as temperatures rise everywhere each year. The number of endangered and extinct animals continues to grow every day. Pressure has been placed on the youth of today to work towards a better future for both the earth and the many generations bound to come. Yet in the face of a challenge as great as this one, it’s the equivalent of reaching the apex of an impossibly tall mountain.

But the resilience of many young individuals, such as those in the League of Environmental and Animal Protection (LEAP) Club at Bronx Science, show this mountain of environmental issues can be climbed and conquered, one foot at a time.

The club meets weekly every Tuesday in Room 307, led by President Emmaa Afful ’22, Vice President Jonathan Lee ’23, and Secretary Pithiya D’ Costa ’23. D’ Costa organizes a loose schedule for the meetings, which usually consists of a presentation and discussion, followed by an activity.

“We usually start off the meeting with news related to current events within the environmentalist community,” said D’ Costa. “This includes presenting opportunities to the club members to attend conferences and webinars to interact with leading environmentalists and other wonderful individuals who concentrate on bettering their local communities. We then have a firm topic for that meeting and give background related to that topic, and engage our members in a discussion on their opinions on how their topic is playing out,” she noted.

For example, the club will talk about greenhouse gas emissions and then initiate a discussion on how they can reduce emissions in their local communities as well as what leaders can do on a larger scale, globally.

Aside from the more conventionally educational aspect of the club, members also participate in fun activities such as baking vegan recipes, making posters on recycling, and going on group walks to parks. Each one of these activities also acts as a method to educate those participating. For instance, baking vegan recipes is to teach others how they can reduce their carbon footprints by going vegan or decreasing the amount of meat they consume. An Oxford University study published in 2014 reveals that greenhouse gas emissions due to meat-eating are 99% to 102% higher than for vegans.

“I have two favorite memories — when we were baking vegan brownies and cookies over Zoom last year, and on our fall hike this year,” said Afful. “In both instances, you could feel the camaraderie of the club.”

“I have a lot of favorites, but one of my favorites was making recycling posters for the school! We all sat down and took the time to make eye-catching posters to leave an impact on our peers and to take the issue of recycling very seriously,” D’ Costa said.

The mission behind the seemingly simple activities and discussion is grand. “We do everything related to promoting environmentalism. We might hold discussions or collaborate with Green Team on events to reach a larger audience,” said Afful. She elaborated on the mission driving LEAP. “As the League of Environmental and Animal Protection, our mission is to promote and ensure the environmentalism of the school. It’s clearly a hefty goal, but we break it apart into smaller portions such as bringing awareness to topics including endangered species or climate change.”

LEAP unites passionate youths with similar passions and goals for the Earth’s future. “LEAP isn’t just a club; it is a small community of individuals who all share a common interest in bettering not only our school community, but our planet as a whole,” D’ Costa explained.

D’ Costa and other LEAP members take their club membership very seriously. “This is important since we need others around us to realize the detrimental effects that even their smallest actions may leave behind on our planet. We try our best to make an impact on our peers and those around us to be more attentive to the world around us,” she said.

LEAP’s story demonstrates the power of a group of individuals working passionately to create and promote change. “We are encouraged to write letters to politicians and express our concerns,” LEAP member Emma Jewel ’23 said. She joined the club because she “wanted to learn more about sustainability and [how] I can be involved in the preservation of our Earth in the future,” a perfect example of one youth taking the initiative to create a better world.

For Afful, it was the cute animals that brought her to the club, but the inspiring goal of the club that convinced her to stay. “During my ninth grade year, LEAP was being held in Room 333, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to meet the chinchillas. [But] hearing the board members speak so passionately about their environmental activism made me want to do the same, causing one meeting to turn into four years,” she said.

Regardless of how the members of LEAP joined the club, they stayed for the long haul, dedicating themselves to bettering the environment and practicing sustainability. “It’s a really awesome club, and the board members are very knowledgeable about different topics. I have learned so much,” Jewel said.

A survey given by the Pew Research Center revealed that the majority of Americans believe the federal government is not doing enough to protect key aspects of the environment, such as water and air quality. Furthermore, two-thirds of Americans think that the government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.

Thus, Afful brings up a great point on mindset and starting small, both of which are feasible for you, the reader, to do. Find ways you can promote sustainability in your own life and community such as starting your own garden or taking shorter showers. You can access LEAP’s Instagram account from this page as well as their monthly newsletter, which delves into concepts such as sustainability and environmental protection in greater detail.

Another great start towards sustainability in our own Bronx Science community is by joining LEAP and making use of the resources and community to be part of the change. “LEAP is honestly just a safe space for future environmentalists, as well as those who have an interest in the environment to come together and bond over preserving the safety of our planet. We have all grown very close and have bonded over our common interests in this club, and I would not have it any other way,” D’ Costa said. Take some time out of your next Tuesday to attend one of their meetings and become another individual who climbs the mountain towards a more sustainable, environmentally friendly world.

“LEAP is honestly just a safe space for future environmentalists, as well as those who have an interest in the environment to come together and bond over preserving the safety of our planet. We have all grown very close and have bonded over our common interests in this club, and I would not have it any other way,” Pithiya D’ Costa ’23 said.