The School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio is conducting a Youth Leadership Air Quality Academy this summer for 30 adolescents attending summer programs on the east and west sides of San Antonio at Good Samaritan Community Center, Healthy Futures of Texas and the Martinez Street Women’s Center.
Through field trips and hands-on learning, the children, ages 13-18, are delving into the causes of poor air quality, its effects on health and how air quality can be improved, said Adelita Cantu, Ph.D., RN, who is leading the program. She is an associate professor in the UT Health School of Nursing and a public health nurse with expertise in environment health issues.
“The goal of the camp is to educate and empower youth to become citizen scientists, and to learn how to become advocates to help improve the health of their communities,” Dr. Cantu said.
The students will learn about the federal government’s guidelines for air quality, how to take air quality measurements, and what health conditions, such as asthma, can result from poor air quality. Field trips include a visit to an oilfield fracking site and a solar energy farm.
The highlight of the camp was Aug. 3, when the students attended a San Antonio City Council meeting to share some of their ideas. With guidance, the students also will write two social media posts about air quality that will be shared on the websites of the three community agencies participating in the program and on national environmental websites. The students also will write letters to the editor to discuss air quality issues.
Funding for the two-year program is supported by a $100,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation.