DEARBORN — The number of Dearborn students becoming involved in more activism and learning development committees is increasing each year and the Environmental Health Research-to-Action (EHRA) Academy under Healthy Dearborn has empowered Dearborn high school and college preparatory students to take action in the health concerns facing Dearborn’s Southend.
Developed by two U of M-Dearborn faculty members, Natalie Sampson, Ph.D and Carmel Price, Ph.D, EHRA address environmental health disparities experienced by residents. The founding mechanism was introduced in early community meetings with a strong interest from community leaders and residents in addressing environmental health disparities through the methods of research and activism.
The 20 students in EHRA Academy’s free six-day program were able to learn about environmental health and justice, including the wide range of health concerns associated with air pollution, and performed many hands-on activities.
The program ran from July 23 to August 1 and was held in an old public school building on Lonyo Street in Detroit. It covered the history and current state of environmental health, air pollution and public safety, advocacy, civic science and environmental ethics and literacy. Students were also able to be a part of presentations given by guests and keynote speakers, and they were able to participate in many enrichment activities.
Chris Coombe of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Donele Wilkins from the Green Door Initiative provided public advocacy training.
Incorporating a twist of law and engineering, Nick Leonard, interim executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, gave a presentation on air policy on July 24. On July 31, students participated in a demonstration of hand-held air monitoring equipment with guest Justin Schell from the University of Michigan’s Shapiro Design Lab.
Sara Gleicher, project manager of Healthy Dearborn, told The AANews that the students were very moved by the summer academy and have acquired further interests. She explained that one of the primary purposes of EHRA is to educate people on air quality and policy and to place more emphasis on environmental health injustice.
The EHRA is working in partnership with with Dearborn Public Schools, the city of Dearborn, and Beaumont Health. Price said that she hopes to continue offering the academy in the years to come.