The Next Generation of Community Change Advocates

California Walks is pleased to have a group of youth we work with who are advancing public health and pedestrian policy.

Why focus on youth?

Working with youth as equal partners in community health and pedestrian safety is critical to lasting community change and success. Youth are the voice and reality of our future and California Walks is invested in building youth leadership and capacity for healthy and safe communities for the next generation.   Communities, professionals and organizations can learn tremendous amounts about pedestrian safety from youth, as they have   unique experience with and perspective on the realities of what makes a safe and healthy community.

Who are the California Walks Youth Leaders?
Since 2009, California Walks has been working closely with Youth Leaders from South Kern County, now expanding to San Fernando Valley and the greater Central Valley, who have transformed themselves into the California Walks Youth Leaders. Having this youth partnership, and bringing the Youth Leaders to engage at workshops, conferences and events around California, has also forged connections to many other youth groups. This work has led California Walks to work with:

What the California Walks Youth Leaders do?
The California Walks Youth Leaders are working to create a healthier California by making it a safer place to walk, play, go to school and work. The California Walks Youth Leaders are proficient in community health and pedestrian safety. Our Youth Leaders have trained and mentored California Walks staff, partners and other youth on youth engagement in healthy community policy and environmental change making.

Video Voice Mapping (VVM) is a primary strategy used by the California Walks Youth Leaders for education, engagement and policy change. VVM uses social media to advance opportunities for change and advocacy for individuals and communities. Digital storytelling has become an essential method of enhancing education and communication by making abstract or conceptual content more understandable. It engages participants and audiences through images and audio, providing a compelling way of sharing that, in turn, fosters more collaboration and accomplishment.

Video Voice Mapping empowers community members to document self-identified community needs and success through a personal video interview process by asking and answering the following questions:

  1. Where are we?
  2. What is really going on here? Why is it important?
  3. How does it affect us?
  4. What can we do about it? If we need help, who and what help do we need?

From learning VVM, Kern County youth, wanted to become trainers. They formed a team, and under sponsorship of CW have taken VVM statewide. They have served as a catalyst for healthier communities where all people can share solutions to challenges they face every day. For nearly three years, these Youth VVM Trainers have been training youth and adults across the state and nation.

They have become state and national youth leaders, taking California Walks with them. Cal Walks Youth Leader, Diana Rodriguez, served as the 2011-2012 Secretary for the APHA CBPHC National Youth Council, and Cal Walks Youth Leader Christopher Chavez has been elected to serve as 2012-2013 Treasurer.

Cal Walks Youth Leaders have presented their work at the national APHA Conference in San Francisco, October 2012 and in Washington, D.C. (October 2011).