By Prabhjot Kaur, Youth Air Protectors intern
SuSol launched our Air Quality program in 2022 in Fairfield. The program is centered around Youth Air Protectors — high school students and young adults who learn about air quality challenges that affect Fairfield and seek ways to educate the community about those challenges and possible solutions while working on hands-on projects. As part of the initial cohort of Youth Air Protectors, we thank Prabhjot for sharing about her experience so far!
Youth Air Protectors interns (Prabhjot is second from left) work on collage projects to envision a world that is environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just
The Youth Air Protectors program by Sustainable Solano is definitely something I will often look back on in the future. I found out about the Youth Air Protectors program from my friend, who persuaded me to apply for it. I signed up with the expectation that the program would require interns to research about the environment and air pollution levels, remaining strictly academic. However, I was incredibly surprised when we were asked to make a collage about nature and what we perceived to be a sustainable, or ideal world during the internship certification meetings. I was even more shocked when I realized that I was unable to visualize a world like that even though I considered myself to be fairly optimistic. Also, later on in the internship, we were given the task of designing flyers that would raise awareness about air pollution in our community. Overall, the program offers more creative freedom and independence than I initially expected, which was a pleasant surprise.
My other expectation when signing up was that the program would focus strictly on air pollution. However, in the internship certification meetings, we were given the assignment to watch videos from an online course called “Awakening the Dreamer,” which informed us about the current major world crises. It was interesting to see how the problem of air pollution related to social and economic issues. Also, the videos showed me how the efforts of environmentalists are making a significant difference, and with more consistent efforts, we can eventually reverse climate change, which was something that I originally thought was impossible.However, what I was truly excited about when applying for this program was going outside and interacting with nature. As someone who spends a lot of time indoors, I figured that this would be a great opportunity to possibly plant flora and meet new people. Due to this, I decided to attend a Tree Guild Workshop, which was run by Sustainable Solano. Although I did not get to install plants, it was calming to walk around and learn about sustainable gardens. On top of that, everyone at the event was really kind, and they were happy to answer any questions I had about gardening and the environment in general. It was definitely one of my best, carefree and most memorable days of 2022.
From the fact that the air pollution level in Fairfield is causing rates of asthma that are considerably higher than the rest of California to the fact that dandelions are not always “weeds,” I have already learned a great deal from the internship. And there is still a lot more to come that I am excited for! In the future, we are going to be participating in beautification projects, sustainability walks, and other garden installation events. Overall, I am glad that I was given this opportunity and made the decision to apply for the Youth Air Protectors program, because it is definitely shaping up to be one of the most important parts of my high school experience.