Pacoima, CA – October 4, 2019, The South Coast Air Quality Management District recognized Pacoima Beautiful’s Youth United Towards Environmental Protection (YUTEP) group as the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Youth Leadership in Air Quality Awardee for the work that the youth group does to help improve the air we breathe. For three decades, the Clean Air Awards hosted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) have honored individuals and businesses, public agencies and others who are making significant contributions to cleaner air across the Southland.
YUTEP is being honored for their unwavering dedication to environmental justice in their community. Youth organizer for Pacoima Beautiful, Yesenia Cruz says, “youth have a lot to teach us. We [Adults] have a lot to learn from them [youth],” when it comes to finding solutions for the local impacts of climate change. Pacoima Beautiful staff trained the youth group on how to use existing reporting methods to give an account of environmental concerns such as air pollution and foul odors.
Equipped with air quality monitoring training, a dozen youth monitored their personal exposure to outdoor air in the Northeast San Fernando Valley for 187 hours. Their monitoring results measured PM 2.5 near their homes and schools. PM 2.5 is extremely fine particulate matter in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when elevated levels are present. They have shared their experience at youth-led Environmental Justice summits, at LA City and LA County public hearings. Their finding, combined with years of lived experience, helped the Los Angeles Clean Energy Coalition’s (LACEC) digital campaign (#NoGasLA #ValleyGasPlant) shed light on the community’s need to transition the Valley Gas Plant to a clean energy resource that benefits Sun Valley.
Receiving the Clean Air Heroes award from South Coast AQMD, for YUTEP, comes at a critical moment when frontline communities, like the Northeast San Fernando Valley, are adding their voice to the youth-led global environmental justice movements calling on leaders for a solution to climate change. clearly, YUTEP is inspiring our youth to act now and to become our next generation of advocates, scientists, engineers, artists and policymakers for clean air. YUTEP will continue to be a vital part of the local fight for clean air and environmental justice here in Northeast San Fernando Valley.