Healthy Teens on the Move (HTOM) began with just a few students focusing on nutrition and wellness at their high school in Baldwin Park, CA. Now, a growing group is concentrating its efforts on high schools in Boyle Heights, CA. Over the years, they’ve tackled diverse challenges, including improving the food and beverage environment at their school and supporting advocacy and leadership opportunities at the State Capitol. They are a leading example in the state demonstrating why youth should be at the table in addressing equity and other key issues.
On April 23, 2019, the youth’s vision was realized as LAUSD voted unanimously to pass phase 3 of its Drinking Water Quality Program, allowing the district to secure $15 million to support the effort. New hydration stations have been installed at Roosevelt High School; several other schools in the district are getting the new hydration stations installed as well. In the summer of 2020, the youth and other partners were successful in reducing the LAUSD police budget by 35% and allocating the savings to critical services for students, such as mental health. More recently, and after 7 years of waging an advocacy campaign, the youth along with other activists, celebrated a victory when Los Angeles city officials announced they would dedicate $1.1 mill. to create a Youth Development Department.
For Healthy Teens on the Move, the work is far from over.
The youth are excited about continuing forward in spite of the COVID pandemic and online schooling. They have focused their advocacy efforts on identifying key health and wellness priorities for this year’s Local Control Accountability Plan and are addressing the school to prison pipeline through restorative justice models, along with trauma, healing, and improved access to healthy food and beverages on campuses. The youth are engaged at a city-wide level in helping to inform park improvements in Boyle Heights as part of PHAdvocates’ Parks Equity Initiative, are part of the Invest in Youth campaign, and are working with partners and young leaders to help create a new Youth Development Department for the City of Los Angeles.