Miya Woo

LACAN - Wellness, Accessibility, and Community Building

Faculty Mentor: Martha Matsuoka, Urban & Environmental Policy Department

Major: Urban & Environmental Policy

Funding: UEP & UEPI Summer Internship Program: Affordable Housing


At LACAN, wellness is a form of power building. Wellness is a holistic outlook on health outside of just the physical state. The global wellness institute lists 6 areas that contribute to a state of holistic health; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental health. In recent decades, wellness has become a rising industry for gentrifying neighborhoods and a brand for social media influencers, resulting in an overpriced, and white-washed resource that is inaccessible to seek out. On one hand, capitalism has commodified wellness as an industry or branding strategy for the White upper class, and on the other hand, African- Americans live sicker and die sooner than whites in America as a physical result of the centuries of systemic racism and oppression that compounds as psychosocial stressors on Black people in a white supremacist world. However, for many people living in housing insecurity and houselessness, the absence of home or a space for refuge makes it systemically impossible to make healthy decisions. Community organizers have found a more equitable strategy to seek wellness; through community building and social justice advocacy. At my internship with LACAN, I witnessed how organizing and empowering systemically powerless communities create pathways for people without access to be intentional with their health and energies. By providing legal empowerment, access to healthy and nutritious resources, and safe spaces for healing and expression, LACAN provides pathways for all people to pursue wellness and care for themselves.

Watch my research presentation below.

Questions or comments? Contact me at: mwoo@oxy.edu


Download the poster