Each week of the Summer Academy had a different environmental justice focus. From hands-on activities and experiments to “externships” with local community partners, this structure provided our New Voices youth with an encompassing and intersectional understanding of the local climate issues facing their communities.
In the first week, our cohort of 30 students from across the Bay was introduced to environmental justice and energy-related issues. Week two was centered around food justice. Students learned about food deserts, pesticides, and received produce boxes to plant their own food. In the third week, the Summer Academy studied air quality, and specifically how pollution relates to climate change, adverse health effects, and policy. They also held a poetry slam where the students shared poems related to environmental and racial justice. Week four covered the topic of housing justice and the ways gentrification, redlining, climate change, and affordable housing intersect. In the fifth week, students learned about water justice, water rights and the politicization of water in California.
The final week marked the end of the summer academy culminating in the Youth Summit presentations. Here, students presented projects that demonstrated what they learned over the six-week program. Their projects showed an interdisciplinary understanding of the social and environmental justice issues that directly impact their communities. Through this program, our students built community, developed their skills as leaders, and grew the youth-led movement for a climate just future.
Our Summer Academy Youth Co-Coordinator Andrea captures these moments in her video below: