Reflections on Youth Wellness Advisory Board

At Fremont High School in Oakland, students are using youth-participatory action research to include youth voices in Fremont’s Redesign, especially in the rebuilt of the new cafeteria and football field.

The current football field on campus is not real turf and is not the standard size for a football field, and this was important to address because students have gotten hurt. Also, there are no stands/bleachers, and as a result there are no home games and no SCHOOL SPIRIT. We realized that not only does a lack of a proper football field affect students in terms of their physical health but also the school climate and environment.

Additionally, the current cafeteria is not designed in a way that is appropriate for high school students. The poor layout does not accommodate the number of students at Fremont High School; thus, discouraging students from having lunch inside the cafeteria and in general since the lines are too long and the time allotted for lunch does not facilitate this.       

In order to gain more insight around these issues we surveyed 6 classes and received feedback. The survey was to gain insight on the different issues that students thought were important and relevant for them. The research showed that students wanted a bigger football field, with real turf, and bleachers. The students also identified the issue of needing a larger cafeteria and shorter lunch lines. To make sure we got this out, we were present at facility meetings where they spoke about the rebuild of the school. We made sure that our voices were heard about the football field issue. We believe it’s important that students get involved with school staff to bring change.

After having compiled all the data from the surveys and advocating for a new standard-size football field and cafeteria, the youth presented the outcomes of their hard work at various Culture Meetings and at one of the All-Staff Meetings.

Here are some reflections from students involved in this YPAR project:

"I felt really shy before and I was scared that I was going to choke on talking or might even freeze up. After, I had a lot more confidence because I saw how nice people were. One experience that stands out was with we participated in the the school canvassing and we got to talk to someone who’s lived in the neighborhood for a long time about changes going on with Fremont and ways he and his son, who went to Fremont, could get involved."

- by William Jacobs

"What I liked about this program and canvassing is how I got to talk about what the new school might have and how it will support us with the voice of the people. Before and after the program I did have the same feelings but none of the people/stakeholders were there to listen and I (we) wouldn't be able to communicate with the people. The program gave us a platform and opportunities to share our voices. "

- by Axel Jimenez