"Jump to New Heights," by Erica Leveille, 18
“Community health is more then just environmental – it’s between friends and people too,” Suzanne Housden, 14
Listening to Youth
From our related Focus Area: Community Health Priorities
It’s becoming increasingly clear that improving population health and reducing inequalities is related to our ability to create more space for leaders from the “millennial” generation.
We know they’re capable. Research has shown that today’s youth have greater rates of civic engagement and volunteerism than their predecessor generations. The younger population is more ethnically diverse than the population at large. New technology and communications and global interconnectedness are embedded in their lives, and not something to be “trained on,” and they are more open to change.
As Northwest Health Foundation’s three annual youth photo contests have demonstrated, youth see health with a much wider scope than the medical-centric view that often dominates today’s traditional media and advertising.
Because photo contest entrants are required to submit captions, we now have a rich body of insight into the complex lives and perspectives that young Oregonians offer the world.
Many entrants in the 2011 contest made it clear that health is influenced by the world that surrounds us. As Marisol Rodriguez Olazaba, age 15, writes in her caption, “Health to me is having a healthy environment to live and being able to trust the earth.”
Fourteen-year-old La Grande resident Suzanne Housden writes that “community health is more then just environmental – it’s between friends and people too.”
The stark photo submitted by Angelica Guitron, 14, “tells of typical conditions in my neighborhood: garbage, broken fences, no sidewalk, and no life. These conditions are very depressing and can invite negative activities, such as drugs. If there were playgrounds, people would feel safe and be encouraged to play outside.”
Indeed, depression and concerns about drugs and mental health are recurring themes.
But while the more than 100 youth who submitted photos were not afraid to share the truth with jarring words and imagery, the overall message was far from despondent.
Sixteen-year old Ireland Gilronan’s pacture was taken at Lost Lake after climbing 1,400 feet in elevation. “The joy of being in a beautiful place with my best friends for five days made me feel radiant.”
Frederique Blouin, 17, says, “take advantage of the beautiful forests we have in Oregon, go outside, breathe fresh air, and breathe to your health!”
Madison Bear, 17, writes, that her photo “symbolizes the importance of being active and exploring the beauty of the nature around you.
For Chloe Huckins, 16, the world around her includes her grandmother, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia, who was the subject of her photo. Cloe commented that “she exudes a glow of health, beauty and vibrancy. She is eighty years old, and in her prime.”
While these leaders will continue to draw inspiration and education from previous generations, they’re ready now to take on greater roles in leadership — roles that will feature collaboration and diversity, and where change is a natural part of the process, and not something forced or planned.
While, officially, there were only three top winners in the contest, anyone who reviews these entries and captions will gain insight and appreciation for the true resource that is Oregon’s youth.
Clearly the future of Oregon is in good hands. Let’s pass the torch.
The 2011 photo contest was coordinated with volunteers from the Oregon Public Health Division, and was limited to Oregon youth between the ages of 12 and 18.
- Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Communities: Our Five-Year Initiative
In the past 15 years, Northwest Health Foundation has made progress and learned much in the pursuit of our mission to advance, support, and promote the health of the people of Oregon and SW ...read on
- Adelante Mujeres Nourishes the Community
In Washington County, research shows the health outcomes for Latinos are significantly worse than those of other ethnic backgrounds. The concentrated poverty for immigrant farmers, challenges of ...read on
- Thomas Cully Park – A Dream Realized
When the sun is out, the children of Portland’s Cully neighborhood transform parking lots into soccer fields. The neighborhood, which shines with cultural flare and ethnic diversity, still has ...read on
- Finding Workforce Solutions to a Dental Care Crisis
What’s the best way to ensure that everyone gets good dental care? Hint: It’s probably not the system currently in place today. Northwest Health Foundation is now helping make space for the ...read on
- Improving Health for Iraqi Refugees
When calculating the costs of war, we often neglect the health and economic costs of traumatized immigrants coming to the U.S. as refugees from violent, and prolonged, conflicts in places such as ...read on
- Healing Decades of Trauma through Oral History
During the mid-1970’s, the radical Cambodian Khmer Rouge killed nearly one-fourth of the entire Cambodian population through executions, torture, starvation, disease and exhaustion. The regime ...read on
- Highlands Does Better with a Community Coach
The Highlands neighborhood in Longview, Washington has, for decades, gone without many of the advantages enjoyed by other communities – a strong retail district, an adequate park, thriving social ...read on
- Health Grants for a Financial Institution?
The answer makes sense once you know more about the nonprofit financial institution, Innovative Changes, and the grant maker, which in this case is the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund. Kaiser ...read on
- Listening to Youth
It’s becoming increasingly clear that improving population health and reducing inequalities is related to our ability to create more space for leaders from the “millennial” generation. We ...read on
- Funding Friends of Public Health - in Coos County, Oregon
County public health agencies throughout Oregon are struggling to deliver vital services, especially in rural counties hit hardest by the recession, and the recent loss in dedicated federal timber ...read on
- Building Partnerships for Progressive Health Care Reform
Isn’t it ironic that the people most affected by the nation’s dysfunctional health care system tend to be from the same communities that are largely left out of reform discussions? To ...read on
- Helping Raise the Voice of the Nurse Leader
National Nurses Week is celebrated every year, from May 6 (Florence Nightingale’s birthday) through May 12 (National Nurses Day). For Nurses Week 2010, Northwest Health Foundation highlighted the ...read on
- Building Capacity for Geriatric Nursing
Older adults use more than 80 percent of home care services and 90 percent of nursing home beds in the U.S. Yet, many of nurses are experienced in providing geriatric care, most have not received ...read on
- Public Health Week
As part of National Public Health Week, the Oregon Public Health Division wanted to spotlight the important role that government public health plays on improving health for all. However, fully ...read on
- Fit Kids in Union County
Across America, too many kids are carrying too much weight. It’s no different in Union County, where a 2005 study found that almost 35 percent of K-12 youths were either overweight or at risk of ...read on
- Moving the Health Care Constituency
OSPIRG is a 35-year old advocacy organization, with a full-time legislative presence at the capitol, tens of thousands of members across Oregon, and an online activist network of thousands of ...read on
- Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Salud - Our Voice, Our Health
Hood River County has the highest proportion of Latino population for any Oregon county, many of whom harvest and process the orchard crops from the Hood River Valley. In some of the county’s ...read on
- Funding a Farmers Market in Lents
Demand for fresh, local, and affordable produce existed in Lents neighborhood of Portland, even thought there was no farmer’s market to provide it. That is, until a coalition called Healthy Eating ...read on