Online Program

Youth Empowerment in Environmental Health through School-Based Hands-on Project Learning

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Trina Mackie, PhD, Public Health Program, College or Education and Health Sciences, Touro University California, Vallejo, CA
Minh-Anh Luong, Touro University California, Vallejo, CA


Despite the fact that both empowerment and self-participation are recognized as critical components of school health promotion, it is rare that the students in the classroom are provided with opportunities to influence their own physical environment. The participation of young people has been documented in community change, but there is little evidence of them actively engaged in making their schools healthier. 


By engaging students in primary school (6th-8th grades at the Mare Island Health and Fitness Academy in Vallejo, California) in hands-on learning about their own environment and its role in their health, this study empowers students to identify and take steps that reduce their environmental health risks.  The project involves a two-way partnership in learning and teaching between MPH students and faculty and MIHFA students and teachers.


The final curriculum content incorporates feedback from focus groups with the youth leadership team and the middle-school science teachers. Surveys before and after students participate in classroom workshops provides information regarding changes in student interest, knowledge, behavior, empowerment and attitudes regarding environmental health concepts and the one’s potential in both risk generation and exposure mitigation.  . 


Surveys are being conducted following the classroom workshops each year, and comparisons will look at overall change for students’ attitudes after three years of participation.


Children rarely have the control over factors in their environment that affect their health.  This project involves them directly in thinking about potential environmental risks in their lives, identifying them, and contributing ideas that may help to reduce or eliminate those risks. 

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe data collected from a school-based service learning project regarding student self-reported behaviors, beliefs and attitudes regarding environmental health knowledge, engagement and empowerment. Discuss the importance of providing environmental health education in primary education to diverse populations. Identify opportunities for youth engagement in environmental health.

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, School-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in environmental health in the non-profit, governmental, and private sectors for the past 15 years. I have a masters and PhD in my field of environmental health. I currently work as an Assistant Professor in the Public Health Program at Touro University California.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.