Supporting Youth-Led Climate Action in San Marcos, CA

Can I tell you how happy I am that I found the Climate for Health Ambassadors program? I was environmentally conscious, hoping others felt the same way, wanted to learn more and how I could take action. Enter stage right: ecoAmerica and the Climate for Health Ambassadors Training Program! They delivered on all of the things I wanted to know about in the orientation training; they gave statistics, backup research and all the tools I need to be a Climate for Health advocate and now I am one.

I have taken the pledge to do more as a Climate for Health Ambassador and to report my actions for the benefit of the group. After that, I was ready to hit the ground running but as a public servant needing to stay on point with the City’s stance on everything, I was uncertain of how to advocate within my professional life. I thought my hands were tied.

Then on our Ambassadors Community call in December, someone said the word “youth” and I realized that I am already doing some work on climate action. I am the staff liaison for the Youth Commission in our City and we are focusing on utilizing Georgia Tech’s Youth Engagement and Action for Health curriculum to identify and solve challenges within our community. This curriculum focuses youth on coming up with their own solutions and advocating for that change with their community leaders. One of the projects they chose was somewhat in the shadows until I invited Bertha Rodriguez, Courtney Ransom and Connor Rey from the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance to come speak to the Commissioners at one of their meetings. It was a great chance for our Commissioners to hear from other young people about what things could be done to advocate for climate justice.

The project they chose and will be working toward is centered around equitable division of resources throughout our City and the effects that has on the way people move about. The tentative project name is San Marcos Moves and it has three parts 1) work with our public transit to increase accessibility, 2) connect and complete more bike lanes and make the existing ones safer, and 3) increase the safety of our sidewalks and ensure safe routes to essential services. It’s going to take a lot of work and some time to get through all three parts but we are excited and confident our community will be happy with the journey and the outcomes.

One a personal note, I have signed on to the MomentUs campaign and for my Climate Action Resolution, I have resolved to trade out toxic household cleaners and products for natural and sustainable ones and to share the journey. This one sounds easy but if I was already willing to toss out the tried and true products that my mother used in her household, I would have. Household cleaning products do not seem like a cultural stronghold but there is something so comforting about that Fabuloso scent.

I urge anyone who is timid, uncertain or simply confused on where to begin to start with the Climate for Health Ambassadors Training and take that orientation training it will lead you to exactly what you need to get started in taking action for our planet. Best of luck on your journey! Please share with us!

Cheryl Salazar is a Recreation Supervisor with the City of San Marcos in California and was trained as a Climate for Health Ambassador through our partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.

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