The Problem:
Did you know an individual who resides in Bel Air on average lives approximately 12 years longer than an individual living in Watts, California? Or that 30% of children in South L.A. and East L.A. communities are considered obese compared to just 14% of children in West L.A. neighborhoods? How about the fact that mortality rates from diabetes complications are 4 times higher in South L.A. neighborhoods compared to West L.A.? These differences in health status among South L.A. and West L.A. neighborhoods are called health disparities. A Healthier Community Starts with YOUth is a program that aims to level the playing field and address some of these health disparities.

Who We Are:
A Healthier Community Starts with YOUth (HCSY) is a student led public health program involving high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, health professionals, and community. The program provides an opportunity for students to receive mentorship and experience in the public health careers as they conduct community health programs with professionals. The program mission is to build maintainable programs that empower communities to work with health professionals understand and improve their health while adopting healthy habits.

What We Are Doing:
Currently, students and professionals are collaborating on youth lead grocery store tour projects. Undergraduate students and high school students residing in under-resourced communities will be trained to conduct visits to grocery stores where participants will learn to identify healthy options, make healthy substitutions in recipes, and read food labels. Patients with a high risk of developing diabetes (i.e. pre-diabetic) and with barriers to a healthy diet, will be referred to the program by their physician. Patients will be supported and encouraged to live healthier lives.

What We Want:
HCSY provides opportunities for undergraduate students to receive mentorship and public health career exposure from other students and professionals in the field. Undergraduate students in-turn mentor high school students and expose and encourage paths to higher education. The final phase of the program includes a train-the-trainer component for representatives of Community Based Organizations to conduct HCSY programs in their communities. HCSY’s vision is to see public health programs ran and sustained by youth and adults in their own communities. Our goal is to promote a culture of healthy practices in under-resourced communities.

How to follow our work and get involved!

Follow HCSY for updates, health tips and more! Please visit our website at and follow us on Instagram: @hcsy.ucla, Twitter @hcsy_ucla and facebook: