Environmental Justice, For Youth, By Youth

 A snapshot from the first Youth Environmental Justice Alliance meeting.

A snapshot from the first Youth Environmental Justice Alliance meeting.

At Northwest Health Foundation, we believe change should be led by the people who are most affected by it. So when we found out about OPAL Environmental Justice's Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA), we were pretty excited. No one will be more affected by environmental changes than today's youth.

YEJA was created, and is led by, youth. It was created so that youth can learn about environmental justice issues and build power to do something about them. This includes, among other activities, political education workshops and campaign organizing.

 Youth participating in a role playing activity on organizing.

Youth participating in a role playing activity on organizing.

Even better, the high-schoolers who created YEJA created it to be inclusive, and to develop low-income youth and youth of color in particular. These are groups that often experience worse health as a result of toxic environments.

"Environmental justice is about being involved in decisions that affect you and feeling comfortable and secure in any environment where we live, work or go to school," wrote Ailani Palacios, a 19-year-old OPAL intern and YEJA member, in a blog entry. She also wrote, "Youth are the most powerful tool in any movement."

We can't wait to see what this youth group accomplishes!

YEJA received a NWHF mini-grant in July 2015. OPAL Environmental Justice was one of our partners in the 2014-2015 Learning Together, Connecting Communities cohort.