EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — A youth organizing group out of Pittsburgh held a town hall in East Palestine on Saturday to hear young people’s voices and concerns about the Feb. 3 train derailment.
A team of of youth organizers, panelists and scientists gathered at The Way Station to talk to young people about their concerns related to the derailment.
“We’re going to have big effects,” says Carol Policaro, an East Palestine resident.
Participants spoke with the scientists and researchers on the panel about cleaning, contaminants near the high school and health worries.
Ilyas Khan with Sunrise Movement Pittsburgh says the goal isn’t to take over — but give young people the confidence to demand answers.
“Help these young folks build that community among themselves organize among themselves in order to receive the justice they deserve from folks like Norfolk Southern,” the organizer said.
Jenna Cozza is 17 years old and goes to East Palestine High School. She also works with River Valley Organizing. She said she’s worried about her sisters, who are 13 and had to go to the emergency room right after the derailment for breathing issues.
“My grandma, my pap, his family had the house we’re living in for three generations, and now we have to find another place because we don’t feel comfortable here, and it’s sad,” Cozza said.
A member of the Columbiana County Mental Health Board also sat on the panel.
“This is more [about] our future and our kids’ future. What I’m trying to do is make the youth stronger and speak up for themselves, instead of other people speaking for them,” Cozza said.
Cozza added she struggles with anxiety and the derailment has made it worse, and she sees additional mental health struggles in her peers.
“In school, people are depressed. They don’t want to be there,” Cozza said. “They come there, they have constant headaches.”