BRAWLEY — Brawley Union High School hosted the 7th annual Imperial County Environmental Health Leadership Summit Saturday to address and inform residents on air quality problems in the Valley. People from all over Imperial County attended and listened to the various panels, who addressed the issues of asthma and other health problems that result from poor air quality.
Sponsored by the Comite Civico del Valle (CCV), the event brought out diverse groups of participants including concerned citizens, local and bi-national organizations, and government officials to discuss these issues with the attendees.
The morning began with registration, allowing participants to pick from the workshops and presentations prepared by the CCV. Luis Olmedo, executive director of the CCV, welcomed everyone and thanked them for showing up to help spread the awareness of environmental health issues.
Olmedo then handed the stage over to the first group of speakers who tackled the subject of effective partnerships for innovative collaborative asthma intervention. Esther Bejarano, health programs and promoter for CCV, was one of those on the panel who stressed the importance of spreading awareness of the issues.
“We bring this summit to the Imperial Valley to educate and empower the members of the community,” said Bejarano.
The first workshop of the morning opened up on Brawley’s campus and was geared to help families and other participants diagnose and treat children with asthma. The workshop allowed people to review the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program and was hosted by Dr. Saima Khan, a pediatrician and associate medical director.
For the next workshop, attendees learned about climate investments by three different speakers including Charanya Varadarajan, manager of climate investments and implementations, who spoke about the climate investment program to highlight the “low carbon transportation” and “low-income weatherization” investments that are benefiting disadvantaged communities.
Ambreen Afshan, disadvantaged community’s liaison and Glen Baird, low-income weatherization project manager, were two of the other speakers for the workshop. They provided information needed to become aware of the help available in the Imperial Valley.
Another workshop offered was entitled ““Salton Sea: Why is it Dying and What’s the Plan,” and was hosted by Shohreh Farzan PhD, Bruce Wilcox, Antonio Ortega, and Israel Cruz. The workshop provided insight on the public health threat that the Salton Sea poses on human health and the plans to reduce public exposure.
After lunch, people once again filed into Brawley’s gymnasium for the first afternoon plenary of the day. The panel discussed integrating environmental justice and equality in California’s climate change program in rural border regions as well as equitable climate investments in rural border environmental justice communities.
Four workshops followed and supplemented the presentation, in order to give the viewer a little more in-depth information on the plans and actions already taken for cleaning the environment. Key speakers for this panel were Trish Johnson, air pollution specialist and Ryan Atencio, climate investment specialist from the California Air Resource Board.
For the last panel of the summit, Nayamin Martinez of the Central California Environmental of Justice Network, Bradley Angel of Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice, Mark Lopez from East Yards Communities and Environmental Justice, and Humberto Lugo from CCV, all spoke about conservation in relation to California’s environmental justice movement.