September 19, 2016

Young Leaders Key to Healthier Communities

In Riverside, students took it upon themselves to advocate for fresh, free bottled water during and after school from their district. In nearby Ontario, a student-led Teen Action Committee is addressing community improvement issues. These are just two of the inspiring stories shared at a recent gathering at Community Partners designed to involve more young people in the work of the HEAL Zones, a Kaiser-Permanente-funded initiative to change policies and create environments where healthy choices are easier to make.

Since 2011, Community Partners has worked in partnership with Kaiser Permanente to accelerate action by community leaders as they work to make their neighborhoods healthier places. The goal of this most recent learning circle was to empower educators, community and civic leaders – the HEAL coalitions’ ‘youth liaisons’ — to mentor and develop youth leaders. “When Kaiser Permanente is no longer funding this work, who will sustain the healthy and active communities? Youth leadership will be critical!” said Senior Program Director, Judy Harper. Community Partners has supported the development of HEAL Zones since 2011 and has facilitated learning and movement building for members of the community-based coalitions. To learn more about the HEAL initiative and Community Partners’ role, click here.

The youth liaisons left the learning circle refreshed, inspired, and with new connections to build a movement for healthy eating and active living. The participants will now launch the HEAL Zone Initiative’s Phase 2 with a focus on empowering young people to create and sustain schools, local governments, health clinics and the communities at large where the healthy choice is the easy choice.

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