Catching Up with Youth for Clean Air Spring 2011 | Newsletter

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Catching Up with Youth for Clean Air

By Myesha Williams

New Voices Are Rising 2011What an eventful and exciting time we have had so far with New Voices Are Rising’s after-school program, Youth for Clean Air!

Building on last year’s pilot program launched in cooperation with our long-term partner EarthTeam, Youth for Clean Air (YCA) has expanded to include both Richmond High School and Oakland’s Mandela High. Running the program in two different cities is a challenge. But the students – all of whom are disproportionately impacted by pollution and respiratory diseases – have found that they have a lot in common. YCA is helping them explore their own communities, and to learn from students in a different city who are experiencing similar pollution and health impacts.

The students have done a great job of taking ownership of the program and stepping into leadership roles to ensure that they get the most of their experience. As the YCA coordinator, I’ve had an amazing time getting to know our participating students, and I’m really pleased with the level of engagement and commitment they have to the program and their communities. One Saturday a month, all 10 students get together to share, learn, and get to know one another. It’s been really inspiring see students from two different communities work so well together and truly appreciate each other’s strengths and ideas.

Students Speaking Out On Diesel Pollution

In December, YCA students attended the California Air Resources Board meeting in Sacramento and testified about the health impacts of diesel pollution from trucks. Everyone worked hard to stay on top of last-minute amendments to the proposed rules. The students spoke powerfully from their own experiences and thoughtfully laid out solutions they believe to be necessary and practical to protect public health where they live.

Teaching the Next Generation

In February, the YCA students enthusiastically accepted an invitation to participate in the Glenview Elementary School “Green Family Fair.” Our YCA students decorated a tri-fold poster board with information about YCA, asthma, diesel and air pollution. The students were very proactive, getting a spin-a-wheel, candy, toys, and other fun items donated so that we could provide goodie bags to the elementary students who visited our table. Needless to say, our table was a big hit! The students at Glenview loved learning from teenagers and the teenagers loved working with the younger kids.

Now the time is coming for the students to pick a project to focus on for the remainder of the school year. I know that the Richmond students are already thinking about an indoor air quality project to improve their school. I’m excited to help facilitate the completion of their projects and see how the students choose to complete this year’s Youth for Clean Air program.

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