WALKSacramento has chosen 10 high school students from Title I schools in South Sacramento to help create campaigns that encourage getting outside and walking, biking, and rolling. This series of meetings and campaigns that WALKSacramento is hosting is called the Health and Climate Champion Program. 

The Health and Climate Champion Program focuses on teaching the youth about climate justice. From pollution, immense heat, and rising sea levels, the effects of climate change often have disproportionate effects on historically marginalized and undeserved communities. WALKSacramento’s program is going to teach the 10 high school kids how to combat climate injustice in their communities effectively.

The program consists of a time commitment of approximately 10 hours per month and participation in at least 6 meetings from March through May. The Health and Climate Champion Program begins Wednesday, March 24th.

There are 6 activities those involved are expecting to participate in. These include; Biweekly Health & Climate Champion meetings, Create and Implement Action Plan, Support and Participate in Ongoing Planning Efforts, Promotion of Pedestrian and Bicycle Education and Activities, and Create and Work Towards Personal and Professional Goals.

Each activity will include “Health & Climate Champion Duties.” Such as outreach, campaigning, planning, and communication through social media platforms and emails to promote other programs and activities. 

Courtesy of WALKSacramento: “Safe Routes to School: West Sacramento”

Jordan Grimaldi, WALKSacramento’s project coordinator who is committed to environmental justice, health equity, and active transportation networks that work for all ages and abilities through community-centered planning, explains more of what the Health and Climate Champion Program has to offer. 

“We first started out kind of testing this idea of working with high schoolers back in January with the Student Ambassador Program,” Grimaldi explains, “we trained and paid high school students in South Sacramento to conduct interviews and surveys with their fellow community members for the Sacramento County Active Transportation Plan. Just hearing how impactful such a brief program was for them, we wanted to figure out ways to continue this. So that’s where this idea for the Health and Climate Champion program came in.” 

Grimaldi emphasizes that “the goal is really to empower young leaders, to advocate for the health and well being of their communities and environment.”

The program will also educate on “building technical knowledge around planning, active transportation and health equity” in addition to a “professional development curriculum that includes public speaking, resumes, cover letters, information interviews, and critical thinking.”

Grimaldi informs that the high school students will be compensated for their efforts and why being compensated is essential. 

“We are extremely lucky that we are able to use our funds from [The California Endowment] to pay high school students to participate because just like other community members, you know, people are busy. And we want to compensate people for their time and efforts.” 

As there are restrictions on where the program can accept students due to the grant through The California Endowment, the Health and Climate Champion Program is choosing to focus on Title I in South Sacramento. Such as Luther Burbank High School and West Campus High School. 

Grimaldi explains why by stating, “South Sacramento is an environmental justice community. An environmental justice community is a community that typically has a higher percentage of low income communities of color and also disproportionate pollution burdens.” 

As stated before, “Grimaldi is committed to advancing environmental justice.” 

“There is a lack of opportunities for youth to engage in planning efforts and professional development. That’s due to a couple of barriers such as time and after school jobs. We’re trying to reduce those barriers by offering stipends and saying you do not have to choose between your after school job and this program in terms of time. You can participate in this program and it can help you save more money towards your goals!”

Grimaldi’s finishing thought, “One of the tangible benefits that we want students to take away are those professional skills and knowledge. Even if they don’t want to pursue a career in planning, we hope that any of the skills they learn, they’ll be able to take in any jobs, internships that they’re applying to.”

“Even if the environment or active transportation isn’t the cause that they want to fight down the line, just building those tools and skills so they can continue a path of advocacy and inspiring positive change in their communities.”

For more information visit: www.walksacramento.org

If you would like to get involved, unfortunately recruitment is finished. WALKSacramento will not be accepting anymore applications, but there is still ways to get involved by attending their events! If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact Jordan Grimaldi by email: jgrimaldi@WALKSacramento.org