Health Happens Here with Youth Power March 2014 Newsletter
Health Happens Here
with Youth Power
Steering Committee 
Alyssa Castro, Merced
Marylou Chavez, South Kern
Jennifer Dueñas, Richmond
Kazmere Duffy, Long Beach
Johnny Flores Jr., Eastern Coachella Valley

Pedro Gomez, Fresno
Marquis Liggins, South Los Angeles*
Yahaira Medrano, East Salinas/Alisal
Luis Melchor, Boyle Heights
Rosa Olascoaga, CIty Heights
Carlos Perea, Santa Ana

Makenzy Williams, Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands
Youth Coordinator:
Amerika Niño, South Kern*
David Valdez, Boyle Heights
Hub Managers:
Evette Brandon, East Oakland
Program Managers:
Jennifer Chheang, Long Beach
Sandra Davis, East Oakland
President's Youth Council
Alicia De Leon Mendoza, Del Norte County and Adjacent Tribal Lands
Ajay Lawson, South Sacramento
Sompong Viengvilai, Richmond
Olondis Walker, East Oakland
Jose Martinez, East Salinas
Maria Ambriz, East Salinas
Maricela Hernandez, Fresno
Nile Haynes-Irby, South Los Angeles
Jeannette Reynaga, Boyle Heights
Chris Covington, Long Beach
Jessica Pompa, Coachella Valley
Tony Aguilar, Coachella Valley
 Adult Allies:
Nahid Ebrahimi, Richmond
Nicole Lee, East Oakland
Coordinating Team
Melissa Guajardo
Luis Sanchez
Sophonya Simpson
Paul Watson Jr.

Jeremy Lahoud


Get To Know Your BHC Statewide Youth Leaders

Kazmere Duffy
Age 20
Long Beach BHC
Member of the Statewide Steering Committee
How did you first get involved with the Long Beach BHC Initiative?

"I got involved with BHC through Weed and Seed.  I met friends who were also connected to multiple organizations and they brought me along with them to meetings.  My friend Christopher Covington told me about BHC and it's youth committee and the great work they were doing in the city of Long Beach.  I liked seeing youth on the move for something positive so I joined the youth work group!"
What is your role in BHC?

"Currently I am on the youth committee working on restorative justice practices within the community and schools.  I also have the privilege to sit on the steering committee as a youth representative where I report all the exciting work the youth are doing now and in the future."
 Describe Long Beach in a 5 words?

"The city by the Sea, friendly, strong, political, and moving forward"
How has your involvement with Building Healthy Communities impacted your life?

"BHC has impacted my life by changing my negative thoughts into positive thoughts.  I used to have no hope for my community but now that I am part of BHC I see that I don't stand alone.  I have hope.  Even though I have not totally changed my bad eating habits I eat more healthier food and watch what I intake.  I also have stopped littering and started recycling for a cleaner Long Beach!"
Where is the one place in Long Beach people should visit and see?

"Long Beach is a great city to visit.  If you are 18+ I recommend you visit 2nd street for the college night life on Saturdays at different restaurants.  If you are under 18, the Pike has a lot to offer.  There's a movie theater, arcade, bowling and the beach is right up the street!  And if you want to see how our city council meetings are ran it's only 1 mile away from the pike."

Ban The Box Resource Guide Now Available


Alliance for BMoC partners at National Employment Law Project (NELP) and All or None put together a resource guide you can use to encourage local government agencies to begin implementing the Ban the Box provisions that AB218 mandates.  Thanks to many of you, this bill got through the legislature and signed by the governor.  Let's make sure that our community members that face these challenges benefit from the expanded opportunity to have their experiences and talents accounted for in the hiring process of local and state government agencies.   Download the guide.

Michelle Rodriguez and Maurice Emsellem at NELP played a key leadership role in this important win.  They would be glad to respond to any questions about the new law and what you can do to help ensure it is successfully implemented in your local community. and 

Upcoming Dates
We know the youth involved in our work are busy and rely on adult allies to help them. These dates are so you know where youth are during the year and what they are doing.

Youth Coordinator Network
Youth Coordinator Call March 18, 1-3
Youth Coordinator Call May 20, 1-3

BHC Statewide Steering Committee on Youth Leadership Meeting
In Person Meeting - June (Date TBD) in Del Norte
In Person Meeting - October (Date TBD) in City Heights
In Person Meeting - January or February 2014 (Date TBD) in Eastern Coachella Valley

Upcoming PYC Meetings and Calls
April 25-27, 2014, Los Angeles

Youth and Adult Allies Meet to Share Stories
and Build Relationships

95 youth and their adult allies convened in Long Beach February 21-23 to learn new skills, build relationship and build support for youth leadership in the BHC and BMOC work across the state.  There are several outcomes that will continue to move the work forward.  
  • A better understanding of the unique roles youth plan in the work and how their succees can be supported
  • A call to support young adults in the process of transitioning from youth participants in the work to young professionals with jobs and trainings.
  • An expanded network of youth and adult allies and a commitment to supporting each other across sites through enhanced personal relationships and through social media
  • New connections among sites working on the top 4 identified common commmunity and youth issues:
    • Lack of access to affordable and reliable transportation
    • Overly harsh school discipline practices including the over use of suspensions and expulsions among youth of color
    • Violence and trauma that is constant and complex
    • Youth unemployment
  • Newly developed skills and knowledge in organizing, youth engagement, policy advocacy, street intellectualism, alliance building, communications, TCE/BHC structures, and representing your community as an ambassador
Two immediate actionable items from this meeting that you can participate in now are:
  • A database of BHC and BMoC social media connections.  Provide your information here of your organization and your personal (if you would like) social media usernames so that more allies can "Like" your Facebook pages, follow your twitter and Instagram accounts and help spread the message of all of your good work. 
  • A feature in future newsletters that highlights one youth activity/win/effort/event in each community and how you can learn more about that work.
For the full notes from the convening and materials from some of the training sessions visit the document library on the BHC Connect Youth Leadership Pages. 

Youth Advocate for Change Statewide and in their Communities

Statewide BHC Youth Leadership Steering Committee members: Yahaira Medrano, Luis Melchor and MaryLou Chavez

JOHNNY FLORES JR/Coachella Unincorporated


MERCED, Calif. – The Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Statewide Steering Committee on Youth Leadership convened for three days in October to discuss how they can collaborate and learn from each other for the betterment of youth across the state and in their own communities.

“I am hopeful that the voice of the steering committee will cause people within The California Endowment and at each site to reconsider the power, competence and wisdom of youth and that, as a result, youth have more opportunities to take leadership at all levels within the TCE and BHC work,” said Melissa Guajardo, coordinator of the committee and program director at the California Center for Civic Participation.

The purpose of the committee – made up of youth from all 14 BHC communities – is to coordinate and support statewide youth structure development, create opportunities for cross site youth engagement learning, support cross site communication regarding youth leadership, and guide statewide youth policy advocacy efforts.

Over the next two years, the committee plans to meet in different BHC hubs so that members can see the work that is being done across the state.

“I like the notion of traveling among the different sites, whether rural or urban, in order to get a sense of the great work that is going around. I like what other sites are doing, like implementing restorative justice, and I try to think of ways of how my community can incorporate some of their ideas. I am always inspired by the work that others do, and feel that my community of Boyle Heights can do so much more,” said Luis Melchor, the representative from Boyle Heights.

Many of the youth, such as Yajaira Medrano from East Salinas, want to learn from the different projects being implemented by other communities.

“I want to learn how youth statewide are getting engaged in the BHC work and what issues still need to be addressed. This can help East Salinas youth engage more youth in our work and different tactics that can make our efforts successful,” said Medrano.

Pedro Gomez, representative from Fresno, said, “Through the BHC Statewide Steering Committee, I hope to learn how to nurture and build those essential youth and adult partnerships in order to create positive sustainable change in California. Change has to start within yourself and from there you can change local, regional, and statewide communities. Ideally, the goal is to live healthier, longer, and be more active in your communities.”

By getting to know their counterparts across the state, committee organizers hope the members will be inspired to advocate for change in their own communities.

“I hope (committee members) come away with the sense that there is a youth movement in California, that we are not just working in silos in our individual community,” said Guajardo, organizer of the convening. “I want the members to feel their power and their strength as individuals and a collective.”

The committee was conceived in winter of 2011 by the California Center for Civic Participation, the Movement Strategy Center, and The California Endowment. In January of 2012, the committee was funded and its first meeting took place in April of the same year. Together, the members of this group are setting out to amplify the voice, creativity and power of youth to organize and advocate for transformational change and healing across California.


Johnny Flores, Jr., 16, is a member of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Statewide Steering Committee on Youth Leadership. He represents the Eastern Coachella Valley.

- See more at: Coachella Unincorporated  

Making Youth Data Matter

The following is a message from Sergio Cuellar, Community Engagement Coordinator at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change (CRC).

I've had the honor of working with many of youth through my past roles ith Youth in Focus and Californian's for Justice.  I'm excited to continue these relationships, build new ones and continue the work through the CRC.  

The CRC produces research to help creat healthy, sustainable, prosperous, and equitable regional change in California's Central Valley, Sierra Nevada and beyond.  As part of this mission, I'm excited to introduce you to Making Youth Data Matter (MYDM). 
MYDM aims to support young california advocates' data access and data use in their efforts to promote strong, equiatable communities.  The project will use a youth-friendly online platform, Putting YOuth on the Map, with California Youth data maps, curricula on using data maps in planning and advocacy, and links to
related online resources.  

We are currently updating the website and need your input.  Starting later this spring we'll offer BHC/BMOC youth workers and youth website orientations that speak to the power (positive and negative) of maps through the Statewide Youth Steering COmmittee and the Youth COordinators Network.  We'll also coordinate with Movement Strategy Center to provide coaching on using data maps as part of youth participatory action research, organizing and advocacy.  I look forward to connecting with everyone and working with you to create the change our communities deserve!

BHC Youth Program Evaluation

Since last summer, youth research interns and their allies have been collecting surveys for the BHC youth program evaluation.  These surveys are being used for site-level reports that examine youth recruitment to and retention in BHC organizations as well as strengths of youth programming.  Reports will be released beginning in the late spring.  For more information about the status of this evaluation research contact youth research interns, Angeli Hernandez (City Heights), Jazmin Cases (Boyle Heights), Aurora Saldivar (Coachella), Miriam Hernandez (Fresno), Tiffany Allen (East Oakland),  Yahaira Medrano (East Salinas), Johnny Rodriguez (Long Beach), Sergio Solis (Richmond), Bobby Powell(Sacramento), Marylou Chavez (South Kern),  Gabriela Dominguez (South Los Angeles).   

BHC Youth Coordinators Network

The BHC Youth Coordinators’ Network will hold bi-monthly conference calls on the third Tuesday of every other month from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. The next call will be on March 18, 2014. Calls are open to anyone playing a key role in local BHC youth engagement efforts, not just folks identified as "BHC Youth Coordinators". The September conference call focused on the role of the Youth Coordinator in each BHC place, some of the common responsibilities and challenges facing Youth Coordinators across the state, and areas for future support and capacity-building. We also discussed some of the unique opportunities and challenges around organizing with youth who’ve interacted with the juvenile justice system and street-affiliated organizations.

Check Out What Youth Are Reporting

Discipline, disparities & restorative justice at school" is the first in a series of Storify pages we are creating to showcase the range of community health coverage produced by TCE-funded youth media projects. Please share, retweet and otherwise promote this impressive body of work! Visit Storify.

For other, more recent youth media pieces from around the state, visit the YMBHC Blog

Some recent stories are:
"Drop the soda pop," Youth Radio


My Brother's Keeper

A message from Dr. Ross
I had the honor of attending President Obama’s announcemnt of My Brother’s Keeper at the White House.  I stood there but it was your passion, determination, and incredible work on the ground that made this moment possible.  The president’s agenda came from you.

The wind is at our backs-let’s take the next step together.  At The Encowment we will contine to generate calls for action that you can circulate and share broadly.  We know all our shared work is included here such as school discipline reform, neightborhood safety and healthcare for everyone, documented or not.

Will you direct traffic to #sonsandbrothers centeral email list at so we can harness this incredible energy?  And will you keep sending our team ideas for how to create a brighter future for todos nosotros hijos y hermanos – all our sons and brothers?
Thank you,
Bob Ross


Statewide Youth Leadership Pages live on

Interested in learning more about the Statewide Steering Committee, PYC, Youth Coordinators Network or other statewide youth leadership activities? 

Then please check out our new Youth Leadership pages on  We’ll be updating documents and the calendar so you always have up to date information about upcoming meetings and travel, the goals and activities of the statewide youth groups and access to related documents.  Please visit us by clicking here. 
If you have thoughts or ideas about what you’d like to see on the pages, please let Melissa Guajardo
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