In recent months, the popular media and the academic press have highlighted new research into the impacts of environmental conditions on the health and well being of children and youth living in poverty. Researchers are increasingly finding that incidences of childhood asthma, chronic illness and lead poisoning are related to the hazardous conditions in which many young people - especially youth of color - live. The youth of northwest Denver, more than 30% of whom live in poverty and more than 80% of whom are people of color, daily encounter environmental hazards that contribute to adverse health conditions. This community, which includes the neighborhoods of Highland, Sunnyside, Jefferson Park, and Sun Valley, is bounded by two interstate highways and divided by several main arterial roads that make walking and bicycling dangerous for youth. While the community is undergoing a great deal of new development, it also suffers from pockets of blight and lacks easily accessible open space. One-third of the housing stock is more than 60 years old.
In partnership with the Highland Economic and Community Health Organization, CYE Center researchers are developing a participatory action research project to help youth in northwest Denver investigate the environmental hazards in their community. We hypothesize that heavy traffic, contaminated land and air, and lack of access to green space affect young people's use of the environment and their attitude toward the community. The goal of this research project, therefore, is twofold: train youth who live in northwest Denver to research ways in which the multiple environmental risks and harms they face affect their health, mobility and participation in their community; and identify institutional and policy barriers to detecting and solving the environmental health issues with which they are concerned. This research project is designed to build young people's capacity to strategically address multiple environmental harms and risks in their community and generate new knowledge useful to residents, City leaders and health researchers through a participatory, educational process.
For more information about this project, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, please email Darcy Varney at email@example.com, or call 303-735-5199.