Raising Enviromental Health Awareness

Khadija Hassan, Ambassador | The Community Check-Up

The Community Check-Up is a national organization that works with youth all across the country to raise awareness about environmental health disparities. My journey as an ambassador at The Community Check-Up started through a post on my Instagram feed, when I came upon the application to come onboard as an ambassador. Not thinking much of it, I filled out the application and to my surprise, I got the position. Little did I know, this was about to become one of my greatest accomplishments. Being an ambassador at The Community Check-Up has been rewarding in many ways. It has provided me with opportunities that I could never have imagined and I feel grateful to have such a motivating team behind me that supports all of my ventures.

The goal of the Warrior Ambassadorship Program is to mentor a cohort of young budding activists on how to restructure environmental issues through the public health lens. Through my ambassadorship, I have learned about the importance of environmental health in the mainstream climate narrative, and realized the true power that youth hold in bringing light to planetary health causes. In fact, one of my projects included writing a 22-page Resource Guide about the intersection of mental health and environmental health issues. The pathway to the finish line was not easy at all. I went through many cups of coffee and a few breakdowns, but in the end, I couldn’t have been more proud of the outcome. Mental health has always been something dear to my heart because I myself experience anxiety on a daily basis. I know many teenagers experience anxiety and other mental health issues — what we don’t know is how everything that surrounds us impacts us greatly. The climate health movement is truly intersectional. Even though we may take certain things for granted, it is important to note how our environment can impact our mental health.

Coming from a minority background, mental illness is a worldwide problem that is also not discussed in many communities. Environmental health is also something I am passionate about; yet, it is rarely showcased in mainstream activism efforts. Climate problems that are causing serious health issues are becoming more and more severe. Americans are hurting because we aren’t treating the climate crisis for what it is: a public health emergency. That is why I hope to use my activism and leadership within The Community Check-Up to educate others on ways we can raise awareness about the intersection of mental and environmental health.

The guide that I wrote as part of my capstone project for the Warrior Ambassadorship Program was about the nuances between mental health and social injustice, climate issues, and green spaces. Each topic introduces an issue or subject on the relationship between mental and environmental health, and I have listed many resources at the end of the topic sections to help people who are looking for more information.

One of the biggest takeaways from my ambassadorship at The Community Check-Up was that youth can truly shift the narrative to include environmental health

within the climate discussion. The reality is that we can significantly solve environmental health issues through youth engagement and educational outreach. Programs like the Warrior Program allow youth like myself to not only educate ourselves about environmental health activism but also allow us to educate our own communities about environmental health disparities. That was one of my goals when writing this introductory guide because I wanted to bring these hidden topics out into the open.

I have always been passionate about serving my community through my dedication to social justice. I will continue fighting for the topics that aren’t discussed and need to be put in the spotlight. This is one of my few steps to help change the world into a better place and I hope in the future I can accomplish much more.

Generating better understanding of the links between accelerating global environmental change and human health to support policy making and public education