SUBMITTED BY ANGELA GREENOUGH FOR BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES JUNE 3, 2013
The Sunset Student Organizing Committee will host a community meeting at the school’s Multipurpose Room to present their proposals to the Del Norte County Unified School District leadership to improve the campus’ weight training facility on Friday, June 7, 2013, at 1:30 PM. Students prioritized the weight room for their policy change efforts because of its general state of disrepair, the neglected condition of the existing equipment, and the lack of additional equipment necessary for adequate physical fitness activity.
The meeting, to be held in Sunset High School’s Multipurpose Room, provides a public forum for the students to report on the process they took to identify their concerns, the results of their research process, and the committee’s solution to the problem. Del Norte County Unified School District leadership, including Rodney Jahn (Deputy Superintendent), Tony Fabricius (Educational Services and Grants Director), and Steve Godla (Assistant Superintendent of Instructional and Educational Services) have been invited to address the student’s proposals. Approximately 100 people are expected to attend, including representatives from Rural Human Services, Wild Rivers Community Foundation, The California Endowment, parents and other stakeholders in the community.
This meeting represents the culmination of months of work on behalf of the Sunset Student Organizing Committee and highlights the students’ efforts to make their community healthier. “Personally, using the weight room makes me feel good and gives me self-esteem – Improving the weight room will make me want to come to school more” said Omar Diaz Ocegueda, sophomore at Sunset.
By using a structured research process, meeting with public officials and policy experts the students gained insight into the weight room issue. “It is a place to calm down, relax, make you feel good, and get to know people,” says Sunset Student Organizing Committee leader, Kitkah Dowd on why improving the weight room is important to him. “It’s a good place to get away from drama- we call it a ‘drama free zone’, which means there’s no fighting and no yelling at each other.”
The student leaders participated in a community change model utilized by People Improving Communities Through Organizing (PICO) to better understand the power structures that influence their daily lives and how to use the tools of democracy to improve their community.
The students are working with Josh Norris, Youth Community Organizer, who serves as an adult ally and liaison between the student committee and the regional work of The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities, which sponsors the organizing efforts. The California Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and through prevention. As such, the Endowment has embarked on Building Healthy Communities (BHC), a ten-year campaign to improve the health of young people residing in vulnerable, at-risk communities through stronger and innovative prevention approaches. The Endowment believes that youth empowerment is the key to healthy and equitable transformation of communities.