Healthy Youth-Led Policy and Empowerment (HYPE)

HYPE worked with high school-age youth on social justice issues that impact community health in Central San Mateo. Two core issues were 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 represented youth in the countyā€™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 residentsā€™ 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. They also led efforts to educate their communities on the role of public transit in connecting people to opportunity. Their work involved community education presentations and collecting surveys to identify youth priorities for investments in public transit.