Online Program

Environmental Justice Youth Training Program: Increasing community capacity through a high school extracurricular module

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 3:30 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.

John Breskey, Ph.D., Department of Health Sciences, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Scott Chan, MPA, Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance, Los Angeles, CA
Jaclyn Loomis, MS, Department of Environmental Studies, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Background and Objective: Linguistically isolated minority communities, which have low communication capacity, have increased health risks due to air pollution exposures. Despite efforts to include these communities, immigrant groups exhibit a lack of participation in decision-making, with the main barriers being lack of education and community capacity required to participate in regulatory processes. The Environmental Justice Youth Training Program (EJYTP) aims to increase the capacity of specific minority and lower socioeconomic status communities in southern California by engaging high school youth on the issue of disparate air pollution exposure and teaching them specific skills to participate in air pollution decision-making processes. 

Methods: Through a university-community-based organization partnership, a 12-week extracurricular program was designed and implemented in two predominantly Asian-American communities of southern California. Student participants (n=24) learned basics of environmental justice through a classroom curriculum, researched environmental burden by collecting air pollution data using low-cost air quality monitors, and created community dissemination materials used to engage other community members and decision-makers around the environmental concerns found.

Results: Pre- and post-program questionnaires are used to measure individual self-efficacy of participants by assessing students’ knowledge of environmental justice issues, confidence in ability to act, and likelihood to engage community members and decision-makers. Tests for repeated measures (paired t-test, Wilcoxon signed-rank test) are used to evaluate changes in these items. Semi-structured interviews with community partner coordinators assess the adequacy of curriculum content and barriers to implement specific topics.

Conclusions: The model of using low-cost air quality sensors is valuable for the specific target audience because it utilizes experiential learning with technology that has historically been unavailable at the high school level in lower socioeconomic and minority communities. The EJYTP module may remain a sustainable model of youth engagement within high schools over periods of years.

Learning Areas:

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

Learning Objectives:
Describe an extracurricular program for high school students that increase the capacity of minority communities in southern to participate in decision-making processes.

Keyword(s): Environmental Justice, Air Pollution & Respiratory Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present this work because as the key developer of the curriculum content. I have been teaching air pollution and environmental health topics for the past 5 years.
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.