Photo: Alyssa Castro
by We’Ced Youth Journalist
When one thinks of transportation, cars, bikes and walking pop into people’s minds. However, one doesn’t usually relate transportation to health, but there is a connection. For example, transportation difficulties can create stress, compromise safety for children and the elderly and cause other health issues in the community. It can be a source of stress because the pressure of looking for a ride to school, work or even the grocery store can all take a toll on families and individuals. The pollution in the air, especially here in the valley, can cause serious health issues like asthma. Then the issues of unsafe bike paths, no sidewalks to walk on or even light poles to light up the dark are all ways that transportation can affect our health. Something dangerous things can happen at night.
Because of the transportation climate in the area of Merced, Building Healthy Communities decided to host a Transportation Forum on March 14th. Put together by a planning table that included We’Ced Youth Media, CRLA, Merced Organizing Project, CCROPP, Distinguished Outreach Services, B.E.T. Enterprises and community residents, the goal of the event was to “develop and strengthen community partnerships to expand available, affordable and safe transportation options for all.” Local agencies, local officials and residents were all encouraged to attend.
The forum gathered more than 100 residents, local agencies and local officials. There was a panel of young people, community residents and agency representatives that spoke to different aspects of transportation, from the personal to more big-picture concerns. Following the panel were four break-out discussion groups that allowed those in attendance to have a deeper conversation about some of their most pressing transportation concerns and how they connect to health.
During the forum, We’Ced’s youth journalist got a chance to ask different attendees what they thought of the forum, why they came and what was the most important thing they got from it.