The Sierra Health Foundation commissioned the “Healthy Youth, Healthy Regions” study with additional funding from the California Endowment which was designed and conducted by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.
Bradley Palmer (Youth Leader, Sactown Heroes/West Sacramento Youth Resource Coalition) commenced the study unveiling by challenging the audience to “freak out” and refuse to accept a reality where youths are not a priority, “Healthy youth, healthy regions is our freak out”. The audience included the Mayor of Roseville, the Vacaville Police Chief and representatives from Sacramento Mayor Johnson and Councilmember Schenirer’s office.
The study asked the question: will the Sacramento Capital Region prosper, thrive and ultimately grow into its full potential in coming years by looking at the overall well-being of young people who live in the nine counties (Yolo, Sutter, Solano, Sacramento, Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Neveda, and Yuba) of the Capital region.
One troubling statistic for the region stated in the report is that among the students entering high school in 2004, only 23% graduated having completed their college entrance requirements for the University of California or California State University systems, compared with 37% statewide.
Four key findings were discovered as a result of the two year, multi-method approach:
1. The Capital Region cannot succeed unless its youth are successful in terms of health, education, job readiness and their preparation for the demands of family and civic life.
2. Today significant structural challenges undermine youth’s progress in all these areas. Underscoring these challenges are disparities in resources and opportunities associated with geography, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, immigration status and other factors.
3. The challenges we now face must be met through a unified approach that crosses sectors and systems on both a local and regional scale.
4. Fostering healthy youth and a healthy region requires leadership from many people, including youth themselves, and unrealized community assets across all nine Capital Region counties.
Christine Tien, Program Manager for the California Endowment, said “this study is a call to action to build a vibrant community that supports and listens to its youth.” CA FWD applauds this goal and looks forward to engaging with youth all over the state to help restore trust through accountability and transparency in government measures.
Jonathan London, Program Director for the UC Davis Center for Regional Change