The Sunset High School Student Organizing Committee will host a community meeting to present proposals to improve the school's weight training facility Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Students prioritized the weight room for their policy change efforts because of its general state of disrepair, the neglected condition of the existing equipment, and the lack of additional equipment necessary for adequate physical fitness activity.

The meeting, to be held in Sunset's multipurpose room, provides a public forum for the students to report on the process they took to identify their concerns, the results of their research process, and the committee's solution to the problem.

Del Norte County Unified School District administrators have been invited to address the student's proposals. Others expected to attend include representatives from Rural Human Services, Wild Rivers Community Foundation, The California Endowment, parents and other stakeholders in the community.

This meeting represents the culmination of months of work on behalf of the Sunset Student Organizing Committee and highlights the students' efforts to make their community healthier.

"Personally, using the weight room makes me feel good and gives me self-esteem - improving the weight room will make me want to come to school more," said Omar Diaz Ocegueda, a sophomore at Sunset.

By using a structured research process and meeting with public officials and policy experts, the students gained insight into the weight room issue.

"It is a place to calm down, relax, make you feel good, and get to know people," says Sunset Student Organizing Committee leader Kitkah Dowd. "It's a good place to get away from drama - we call it a 'drama free zone,' which means there's no fighting and no yelling at each other."

The student leaders participated in a community change model utilized by People Improving Communities Through Organizing (PICO) to better understand the power structures that influence their daily lives and how to use the tools of democracy to improve their community.

The students are working with Josh Norris, youth community organizer, who serves as an adult ally and liaison between the student committee and the regional work of The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities, which sponsors the organizing efforts.