Climate change is a global emergency, but its impacts are not equally distributed across our society. Children, especially children in economically disadvantaged or historically marginalized communities, bear the greatest impact. From increasing exposure to pollution to climate disasters to environmental justice, today’s youth face both new challenges and new opportunities to drive social change.

On August 25, 2021 CHILDREN AT RISK released Volume 12, Issue 1: Environmental Justice and Climate of the Journal of Applied Research on Children (JARC). JARC is an open-access, peer-reviewed digital publication, that provides applicable research to the public, child advocates, and policymakers on timely children’s issues. This latest issue examines how climate change and damage to the environment impact child wellbeing.

Several articles in the issue highlight the complex connections between climate change and children’s physical and mental health. This interconnectedness allows leaders to take actions that address both issues simultaneously, according to Dr. Ruth Etzel, who served as guest editor of this issue with fellow climate change advocate Dr. Susan Pacheco. 

“It turns out that taking action to protect the Earth is giving us the greatest child health opportunity of the 21st century because many climate change strategies will also lead to child health improvements,” Dr. Etzel said. 

In featuring research with an environmental justice lens, this journal issue emphasizes the urgent need for these protections in low-income communities and communities of color. Systemic inequities in housing and environmental policies have resulted in these communities experiencing more severe impacts from climate change and pollution. As Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK, notes, this harmful situation can have long-lasting effects on children. 

“We know that the environment for many of our children is going to impact their success, their health and whether they can be citizens that contribute to the economy and whether they lead lives that matter,” Dr. Sanborn said. 

For many young people, this outsize impact on their futures motivates their participation in youth environmental movements, like the Sunrise Movement—a nationwide organization of young advocates for environmental protections that is discussed in the new issue. Ricardo Alvarado, the founder and leader of PR Students for Climate Action, another youth activism group, joins authors featured in the journal on August 25th for a roundtable to discuss their research and the need to prioritize children in climate action. 

“Listen to us, the youth,” said Alvarado, a rising high school senior. “We will live longer to get to see the end results of the irresponsible decisions made by people today.”  

All issues of the Journal of Applied Research on Children are available to read and download for free.

Watch the roundtable recording below or on Facebook at 

Roundtable Participants

    • Bob Sanborn, Ed.D., President & CEO, CHILDREN AT RISK
    • Susan E. Pacheco, MD – Professor of Pediatrics, University of Texas, McGovern Medical School
    • Ruth Etzel, MD, PhD – Adjunct Professor, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University
    • Vi Thuy Nguyen MD, FAAP – Assistant Chief of Service, Kaiser San Diego
    • Katie Durrwachter-Erno MD, FAAP – Healthy Air and Water Colorado
    • Gabriella Meltzer – Doctoral Candidate, NYU School of Global Public Health
    • Ricardo Alvarado – Rising High School Senior at Colegio Mater Salvatoris, Founder and Leader of PR Students for Climate Action

This post was written by McKenna Tanner. Mckenna Tanner is a 2021 Development Intern at CHILDREN AT RISK and a sophomore at Rice University.




Our last summit of the year will dive into the issues of STEM education, focusing on building a robust and qualified pipeline of professionals. A learning opportunity for educators and community leaders, this event will highlight the work of STEM industry leaders, educators, and nonprofit innovators working to improve access to STEM education for all students. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of what they can do to support the next generation of STEM professionals.

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