Healthy Youth-Led Policy and Empowerment (HYPE)

HYPE works with high school-age youth on social justice issues that impact community health in Central San Mateo. Two core issues are at the center of their work: second-hand smoke, which claims over 41,000 lives in the US each year, and public transportation, which connects people — particularly in low-income communities — to jobs, school, health care, and family.

To address these issues, HYPE leaders represent youth in the county’s Tobacco Education Coalition — a group of service providers, public health departments, and community-based organizations — to advocate for smoke-free multi-unit housing. Over half of multi-unit housing within the county is protected by ordinances that guarantee residents’ rights to clean air. But many — particularly in low-income communities of color — have yet to pass such ordinances.

In 2018, youth leaders conducted 20 observational assessments in cities that have passed the ordinance to evaluate its effectiveness, and are currently working to identify the need in cities that lack protection. Over the next two years, they plan to conduct 50 more assessments with the goal of shaping advocacy efforts for new ordinances and effective implementation.

They are also leading efforts to educate their communities on the role of public transit in connecting people to opportunity. Their work involves community education presentations and collecting surveys to identify youth priorities for investments in public transit.

The group meets Mondays, 5:30-6:30 at YLI’s San Mateo Office. All youth between ages of 13-24 are eligible to participate.