Jennifer Sekar, organizer of \"A Day of Rest\"

by Jeannette Cooperman

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Jennifer Sekar

God had one; why shouldn’t we? Now that people work and do chores and run errands on Sundays, Jennifer Sekar, 13, is hoping 1 million people around the world will take Saturday, Oct. 4, as a true day of rest and keep their cars in the garage. That one day would keep 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions out of the air, she says. Her Web site,, asks people to pledge not to drive Oct. 4

and counts 4,235 visitors at this writing, but Jennifer insists that number is incomplete. For instance, many of the older people in her parish, St. Joseph/Mission San Jose in Fremont, Calif., don’t use computers.

Jennifer has been passionate about the environment ever since she worked on a project about saving the earth in third grade. She is now in ninth grade.

You’re starting “A Day of Rest” on the feast day of St. Francis. Why?
He was a big environmentalist. He was all about caring for God’s creation.

If someone said, “Why bother with a single day of not driving?” what would you reply?
It’s the difference between trying to help the world and just not caring.

What do you believe in?
Most of all, I believe that all people are really good.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve been pretty mean to my sisters.

Do you believe people can change?
Yes. I’ve seen a lot of people change a lot.

Do you believe in fate?
I think so. I think the main part of our life is planned out, but God gives us decisions to make. In most parts of our lives, we get to choose how it goes. Just not the major part.

What makes you angry?
When people are in their car and just throw garbage out the window.

What’s been hardest in your life?
School probably. In my school, there’s a lot of competition, and it puts a lot of pressure on me. But that’s also the best thing about my school.

It gets me prepared for the real world ’cause there’s limited resources and to get them you have to be the best.

What do you hope will happen if “A Day of Rest” is really successful?
I’d just like to see a clear sky one day.

What signs do you see that the environment’s in trouble?
My sister goes to USC, so we go to L.A. like twice a year, and it’s pretty gray there. And we have a park. It’s pretty big but not that big, and there’s lots of trash there. And in our school if you stand where they drop people off, it smells really gross. There are a lot less trees nowadays, too.

What should everyone do once in their life?
Get together with a lot of friends and just relax and not think about anything that’s really serious or anything that’s really stressful for one day.

What would you do to make people less stressed?
I’d really like to remove a lot of the competition. But I still think that competition is good in a way, so I really wouldn’t do that. If I could give people more vacations, I’d do that.

How do you keep your busy life organized?
Quite honestly, I’m not very organized. My life would practically be a disaster if it weren’t for my mom.

National Catholic Reporter September 19, 2008

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