Environmental health content created by students across the state with mentorship from children’s health experts. 

Application of public health principles to advocacy projects that have the potential to  improve the health of communities is an important aspect of the Summer Academy. During the 2022 Program, scholarly advocacy projects were focused on the health impacts of climate change, a priority area for New York state. Students applied their knowledge of the Frieden Health Impact Pyramid to design strategies that have the greatest potential to improve public health.  Working in small groups, students addressed the ways in which climate change impacts health through the three main routes of environmental exposures:

  1. Ingestion/Dietary Exposures
  2. Inhalation/Respiratory Exposures
  3. Contact/Dermal (skin) Exposures

Watch the introduction to the advocacy projects here:

Group 1 Climate and Food

Led by Dr. Sandra Jee

Climate change impacts on planetary health is manifest in our food supply. Scarcity or resources and constant fluctuations in weather impact our agriculture on many levels.  To address these issues through advocacy, students learned about the complex relationships between our current living habits and its impact on the environment.  We took ideas about how to promote eating locally and sustainably by projects that took the form of:

  1. Infographics on beneficial food swaps (how to choose certain foods over others that are nutritionally comparable, but might use fewer natural resources to grow, such as eating broccoli vs. asparagus, or oatmeal instead of rice)
  2. Advocating for the use of free apps such as Yuka, which is a free mobile app that rates barcodes of foods and cosmetics and rates the impact on health. (yuka.io/en/) Advocating for the use of UpCycled certified products that prevent food waste via purchased products. (upcycledfood.org/upcycled-food)
  3. Making a toolkit to promote re-growing vegetables in the home, such as bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, and scallions. The goal was to include recipes and a “how-to” guide for those who wish to promote regenerative eating.  Together, with infographics from the Climate Change Advocacy group 2022, we aim to provide this as educational resources for those who wish to eat more sustainably.


Abby Blank – FLCEHC – Tulane University
Zahra Choudry – LI – HBCAC – High School Student
Aliyah Hamid – LI – HBCAC – High School Student
Christy Mo – UR/FLCEHC
Fiyinfoluwa Olasoko – NYMC
Elise Rio – UR/FLCEHC
Alex Siegel – Long Island – Roslyn High School
Maya Wedner – LI – HBCAC – High School Student

Group 2 Climate and Respiratory Concerns

Led by Dr. Amy Brown, Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Hudson Valley  Equipped with critical thinking and creativity, students in the Respiratory Subgroup developed an advocacy project designed to link the respiratory tract health effects at the individual level to the larger picture of climate change. This subgroup focused on effects of climate change that specifically impact children who have an underlying respiratory disease. Since children breathe faster than their adult counterparts, with any given breathe they may experience a larger “dose” of the environment into their lungs.

Unfortunately, there are many inhalation byproducts from climate change that can be harmful to a child’s lungs, especially those with underlying respiratory concerns. Empowering children and families to understand, on a personal level, why it is so crucially important that we collectively advocate to control climate change was at the core of the task for this student group. This student subgroup developed a series of comic book story lines embedded with the fundamentals of environmental health risk messaging. In a child-centric fashion, each adventure story tells the tale of a super hero, named Allie-Buterol, who is confronted with a demon of climate change. These monsters were creatively named, The Mold Monster, The Fire Minion and Pollution Pete. Using their course training in public health interventions, students emphasized for parents downstream interventions for addressing these concerns that may already be present in their current environment and simultaneously coupled this with countermeasures to combat climate change in a more upstream fashion that are achievable and scalable for families.

Group 2 – Climate and Respiratory Concerns


Matthew Aubourg – Sinai – Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Kirsten Damore – Hudson Valley – Villanova University
Jithin George – Rochester – URMC
Karyssa Harris – Rochester – URMC
Ethan Klayman – Hudson Valley – Binghamton University
Melissa Lass – Hudson Valley – Lafayette College
Hunter Nash – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Carrighan Perry – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Forouhideh Peyvandi – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Olivia Polinsky – Long Island – HBCAC
Sajana Sivagnanam – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Rachel Sosin – Hudson Valley – Lehigh University
Hannah Steinthal – Hudson Valley – HBCAC/NYU

Group 3 – Climate Change and Contact/Dermal (skin) Exposures

Led by Dr. Sarah Evans

Co-facilitator: Meredith Marden

Climate change is causing increased exposure to UV radiation from the sun and less predictable patterns of insect activity, resulting in an increase in both skin cancers and insect-borne diseases. To address these issues through advocacy, students created targeted educational programming to increase awareness of the health impacts of climate change as well as steps to stay safe from harmful exposures. To achieve maximal population-level impact, they also developed policy recommendations to protect vulnerable communities. These projects took the form of: 

  1. Youth educational programming for summer campers on the health impacts of climate change, sun safety, and safe use of insect repellents. 
  2. An Op-Ed outlining policy recommendations including the provision of free, safe sunscreens in parks and outdoor recreation areas across New York state. 


Emily Bonacchi – Long Island – HBCAC/Molloy University
Nicole Brennan – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Oliver Fernandez – Hudson Valley – Case Western Reserve University
Omar Gobji – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Maroska Ishak – Long Island – HBCAC
Shivani Muthukumar – Long Island – HBCAC
Divya Rao – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Madeline Smith – Sinai – Boston University School of Public Health
Lucas Spagnoletti – Long Island – HBCAC
Erica Thomas – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College
Joshua Vazhappilly – Hudson Valley – New York Medical College

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhDlEksm4c4