NEW YORK, NY – On April 18, 2015, after nine weeks of sessions, 20 Harlem Residents graduated from WE ACT’S Community Empowerment program also known as the Environmental Health Justice and Leadership Training (EHJLT). The mission was to introduce community members and youth leaders to Environmental Justice, Environmental Health, Community Organizing, and Campaign work at large. This year the program ended on the Week of Earth day, setting the tone for a new wave of climate activists.
The curriculum incorporated workshops to help community members get a better understanding of Environmental Injustices (EJ) in New York City with a focus on Northern Manhattan. Each participant of the program received an EHJLT manual highlighting EJ issues in Northern Manhattan, EJ terminology, definitions, laws/policies, history of EJ and WEACT, tips/resources, basic organizing and advocacy techniques. Upon completion of the program, graduates received a packet including two books on community organizing and environmental justice According to David Chang, WEACT’S Environmental Health Coordinator, the training offered a fresh opportunity to engage members on the issues on a deeper level:
“The opportunity for old and new members to share their ideas is very exciting for me. When they have a better understanding of the issues – it usually leads to more input and involvement, on our daily work. So I am very excited about that.”
According to WE ACT member and participant Liz McMillan the process has helped her better connect the issue of environmental justice to her daily life, saying;
“This process has been so beneficial to me, it’s incredible I have had the opportunity to see how much environmental issues connect with our communities in a way that wasn’t always clear. Between that and learning how I can cultivate my own communities by helping to expand access to healthy foods with a community garden, really has me excited for the kind of good I can bring to the people I live with.”
30 seats were made available for the spring cohort, but more than 50 people signed up for an opportunity to participate. WE ACT hopes to expand the EHJLT program and graduate its second cohort in the fall.
For additional information on our workshops, contact David Chang 212-961-1000 ext. 313