VoiceWaves is a Long Beach youth-led journalism and media-training project. The youth, ages 15-25, are learning to report, write, and create digital journalism content. Their reports will raise awareness of community health issues and activate change in local neighborhoods.

Now an independent project of Youth Leadership Institute, VoiceWaves was initially launched by New America Media in 2011, and was joined by a growing statewide network of youth media hubs collectively known as YouthWire. Based at St. Luke’s Church on Seventh Street and Atlantic Avenue,  our project has trained youth to use digital photography, video, radio and social media as community engagement tools to produce a healthy Long Beach. They are gaining skills that will help them throughout their life, and earn experience that they can turn into a career.

Central and West Long Beach

VoiceWaves is proud to call Central and West Long Beach home. It is an area rich in culture, history, and human resources. Long Beach’s most diverse areas include Filipino bakeries and Vietnamese noodle houses, African American barber shops and Mexican taquerias, and Cambodian temples and Muslim mosques, all side by side.  The residents of these two areas speak a host of languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Hmong, Khmer, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese, to name a few.

Central, West and also North Long Beach, however, are also some of the poorest areas of the city.  With the exception of violence within the community, media coverage is rare.  Residents of these neighborhoods have no news source with which to share their concerns and problems, visions and hopes. VoiceWaves exists to fill those voids by having community-oriented media coverage the uplifts these often unheard communities.

The California Endowment is funding a 10-year, $1 billion program called Building Healthy Communities. 14 communities across the state are taking action to make where they live healthier. They’re doing this by improving employment opportunities, education, housing, neighborhood safety, unhealthy environmental conditions, access to healthy foods and more. The goal: to create places where children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. Ultimately, they are aiming at nothing less than a revolution in the way all of us think about and support health for all Californians.

The California Endowment is a foundation committed to improving the health of all Californians, especially those in underserved communities. They’ve made thousands of grants since 1996, and the most important thing they’ve learned is that our health doesn’t begin in a doctor’s office. Where we live has an enormous impact on our health. Being able to breathe clean air, to send our kids to school without fear of violence, to have a convenient place to buy fresh foods, to live near a park where we can walk and play – these are the things that prevent us from getting sick in the first place.

For more information, visit www.calendow.org/healthycommunities.