The Madonna Heights sanctuary mosaic

The Madonna Heights NY State Children’s Environmental Health Centers collaboration uses a positive-youth development model to promote resilience among adolescent girls confronting multiple types of trauma in their lives.

Under the guidance of leaders from Long Island University, Stony Brook University and Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, we provide highly interactive learning sessions where the girls develop skills in communication and leadership towards creating solutions for the environmental health problems they prioritize in their world.  Experiential, interactive, and mentorship-based learning engagements culminate with student-developed projects in May and December.  Student projects have included environmental health posters, slide shows, written and audio presentations, and a dance performance that emphasized self-esteem and kinesthetic learning.  One student project lead to an important policy change: the removal of polystyrene from the school cafeteria. Program evaluations assess self-perceived leadership qualities.

Our NYS CEHC team is dedicated to using community-based and evidence-based methods for serving vulnerable populations in Long Island and across the state. The strength of our work depends on the strength of our partnerships.  For example, mentors from diverse fields (including, but not limited to medicine, public health and social work) bring rich experiences to share with the girls. Mentors receive regular training and feedback from the leadership team.  Mentors come from regional universities, hospital systems, and nonprofits.

Introduction to Environmental Risk Factors