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Hui Ola Pono members
Hui Ola Pono members (from left): Anna Davide, Chelsea Gonzales, Christine Quiaoit, Swastika Maharjan (center), Edra Ha and Cameron Woods (photo courtesy: Cameron Woods).

A group of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa public health undergraduate students from the Office of Public Health Studies of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work have won a national competition and will receive funding to host a climate justice fair on campus that will focus on issues related to climate change.

The Hui Ola Pono: Public Health Undergraduate Club was one of five student groups selected nationally by the American Public Health Association as winners of the Student Champions for Climate Justice award. They received $500 to carry out their various activities.

“As public health students, we highly value environmental health and indigenous rights,” said Cameron Woods, events coordinator of Hui Ola Pono. “The climate justice fair will raise awareness of how environmental issues directly affect the health of minority people,” said Woods.

“We want to encourage students to get involved in climate justice efforts,” said Swastika Maharjan, president of Hui Ola Pono. “We are thrilled to have won this award and to be bringing funding to our campus to host a day of sharing information and lived experiences.”

Issues of sustainability and environmental preservation are frequently included in the public health curricula of courses at UH Mānoa. By hosting the fair, the students hope to build on that effort and highlight how broader climate issues affect local communities.

In addition to Maharjan and Woods, the award winners include public health students Anna Davide, Edra Ha and Christine Quiaoit.

“Here in Hawaiʻi, we are surrounded by the warming Pacific, and we face a hurricane season lasting half the year,” said Davide, events and service coordinator for the hui. “Climate change is palpable to us, but climate justice efforts can bring real solutions that we can work to achieve within our lifetimes.”

Climate Justice Fair events

The climate justice fair will be held during National Public Health Week (April 6–12) on Monday, April 6, at the Campus Center Courtyard (time TBD). It will bring together organizations from UH and the community that focus on issues related to climate change and empowering groups disproportionately affected by climate change.

The fair will culminate on Thursday, April 9, with a screening of This Changes Everything, a 2015 film based on award-winning journalist Naomi Klein’s book about the role of capitalism in climate change. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with environmental justice experts and Native Hawaiian rights activists. Information on location and times will be forthcoming.

By Theresa Kreif

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