Our experience working with Y-PLAN was captivating. It taught us important skills that will benefit us in the future. Teresa and I would like to thank HMS (Health and Medical Sciences Academy) for giving us an opportunity to be introduced to Y-PLAN. Being a part of HMS and Y-PLAN made us aware of the serious health issues affecting our community. Y-PLAN helped guide HMS students to come up with solutions to address these issues and improve health in our community.

During the Y-PLAN process, we first thought about all the problems in our community and what we could do to fix them. We did a walk audit of our built environment and debriefed our findings as groups. We then surveyed our community so they could provide input about needed change. We weighed the costs and benefits and evaluated qualitative and quantitative data which we put into graphs. Finally, we presented our conclusions to the Y-PLAN board, district personnel, our amazing teachers, administrators, and community members.

After our presentations the school year ended and we planned to renew once the new school year started, but I didn’t want to wait. I contacted our client, WALK Sacramento, who supported me following through to make tangible changes in my community. Mr. Kumar helped me make contact with Regional Transit and based on my Y-PLAN work I got two new bus stop benches installed along with other bus stop improvements. These improvements will result in more pride for our community, a safer bus stop for the many students who ride the bus to school, and an opportunity for people to congregate and relax at the bus stop instead of just standing there awkwardly or dangerously sitting on the curb.

My work with Y-PLAN helped me realize I can be an advocate for change and help create equity. As students, our voices can and will be heard.

Written by: Anastasia Thanpaeng and Teresa Salias, 11th grade students at Hiram Johnson Health and Medical Services Academy, Sacramento, CA