Teens lead educational ‘Toxic Tour’ through The City

Latino and Chinese immigrant youth from San Francisco’s Common Roots Program have been commended by the Board of Supervisors for their effort to organize neighbors and reduce air pollution in The City’s southeastern neighborhoods.

The youth group was founded in 1998 by the Chinese Progressive Association and People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights. Although it was initially a summer program, it’s now a year-round service for low-income minority youth in San Francisco.

One of Common Roots’ projects is the Toxic Tour, a walking tour of Bayview Hunters Point and its most polluted areas, including the decommissioned shipyard and power plant.

San Francisco has the highest asthma rate in the Bay Area, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. Some of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods, including Bayview-Hunters Point, have asthma hospitalization rates four to five times greater than the Richmond and Sunset, according to a report from the Asthma Task Force released earlier this year.

Students in Common Roots go through an intensive six-week training during which they learn about how to participate in and organize grassroots campaigns and influence policy that affects low-income residents and people of color.

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