On October 28, 2019, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) hosted a pop-up art exhibition that offers insights from young people, ages 5-26, about how the social determinants of health – factors in the environment where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age – shape their lives and their communities. These factors can and often do impact health and well-being more than access to good health care and the individual choices we make, which depend on the choices that are available to us. Addressing the social determinants of health is critical to achieving health equity, which means that everyone has a fair shot at living the healthiest life possible – the mission of the NAM’s Culture of Health Program.

To develop Young Leaders Visualize Health Equity, the NAM put out a nationwide call for young people around the country to submit artwork that answers what it might look and feel like to one day live in a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to be healthy, safe, and happy.

The eleven pieces of art selected for the pop-up exhibition were chosen based on the insight they bring to the subject of health equity, as well as creative impact. The following artists were featured in the show:

  • Chloe B., 7, Ruidoso, NM
  • McKenna S., 7, Ruidoso, NM
  • Audrey S., 9, West Seneca, NY
  • Lillian B., 13, Woodbury, MN
  • Sofia L., 13, Chicago, IL
  • Victoria K., 16, Fresno, CA
  • Lorenzo Cruz, 18, New York, NY
  • Justin James, 18, Mineola, NY
  • Nhi Nguyen, 21, Gainesville, FL
  • Rebecca Hamburger, 24, Mount Pleasant, MN
  • Kate Levenberg, 24, State College, PA

In addition to the pop-up exhibition, over 175 submissions appear in a permanent online gallery, available at nam.edu/youngleaders. Pieces include visual and nonvisual art, such as paintings, drawings, poems, and videos. This gallery aims to show how the social determinants of health impact everyone, including young people and their loved ones, and why it is critical to address these factors so future generations can thrive. The inclusion of the voices of young leaders is vital to the ongoing conversation about health equity and the future of our world. The NAM hopes this project and projects inspired by it help build a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to live a healthy life.

Artwork from Young Leaders Visualize Health Equity will join the Visualize Health Equity traveling show in 2020. If you are interested in hosting the exhibit at your organization, please email NAMedicine@nas.edu.

To learn more, please visit nam.edu/CultureofHealth.

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