Taking Action to Address Environmental Health Today to Protect the Health of Future Generations
August 2022

By Maura Leahy, MPH, CHES, Program Manager, Child & Adolescent Health, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP)

When I heard that the theme for this issue of our Pulse newsletter was “Reflections on Shaping our Future,” I immediately thought of children, adolescents, and young adults because they are our future. My thoughts then also immediately jumped to the many issues that are negatively affecting our young people: gun violence, racism, losing loved ones to COVID-19, youth mental health, climate change, and access to healthy housing. The list goes on longer than it should, and many of these issues are interconnected.

Adolescence by itself is a challenging time for young people as they experience major physical, social, and emotional growth. But today’s young people are dealing with so much more than my generation (and older generations) have had to deal with. They will also be the ones living with the actions, or inactions, of policymakers and those in positions to make change happen.

In AMCHP’s MCH Bridges podcast episode, “The Kids Are Not Okay: Climate Change, Environmental Injustice, and What MCH & Youth Advocates Can Do,” I had the pleasure of talking with Rhea Goswami, co-founder of the Environmental Justice Coalition (EJC). Rhea co-founded EJC as a high school student during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also spoke with one of Rhea’s mentors, Dr. Megan Latshaw, about actions the Maternal & Child Health field can take to improve environmental health.

This podcast episode:

  • Features Rhea and Dr. Latshaw explaining their motivations for doing the work they do
  • Explores ways that MCH professionals can get connected with young people to collaborate on important environmental health issues affecting children, adolescents, and young adults
  • Discusses how climate change and environmental injustice are affecting children and young people today
  • Looks at climate change and environmental health from the lens of environmental justice and how this impacts MCH populations
  • Shares strategies for MCH professionals who want to improve environmental health

I hope this episode inspires you the way it did me. Yes, we need to do a lot of work in the area of environmental health and justice. But there are young people like Rhea and her peers who are taking matters into their own hands, and they can benefit from support and collaboration with MCH professionals. I hope that you’ll take the time to learn more about at least one youth-led organization, coalition, or group in your state or jurisdiction. If you haven’t done so already, I also recommend that you listen to AMCHP’s Youth Voice Amplified committee’s new podcast here and stay tuned for more episodes.

This podcast episode was published on June 27, 2022, and is available on AMCHP’s official podcast, MCH Bridges.