On May 6th, Yisrael Family Urban Farm and volunteers gathered at a local Oak Park residence to build a garden and promote healthy communities.
Building Healthy Communities
California Land Trusts Council to host outdoor activities.
The California Land Trusts Council will host various outdoor activities for Californians throughout the first week of May.
“Our goal with this initiative is to enable Californians of all ages to have an outdoor experience that is positive and meaningful to them,” says Natalie Keeve, project manager of Take It Outside California!
This is in a major effort to contribute to fighting the current obesity epidemic within California. According to a UCLA article entitled “UCLA study finds that one quarter of Californian adults are obese” obesity for adults has increased from 19.3% in 2001 to 24.8% in 2012.
Activities will consists of nature walks, bicycling, community-service based activities, scavenger hunting, kite flying, tree picking and planting, and more. An additional major intention of this event us to connect Californians more with their outdoors and introduce them to get unknown lands where they can enjoy the outdoors more often.
Engaging in outdoor activities may be a direct correlation with obesity. Child obesity has doubled since twenty years ago, along with the fact that children are spending half as much time outside as they did twenty years ago according to an article on NWF.org entitled Why Connect Kids and Nature.
The same article states that our healthcare system has drastically increased and the creativity, concentration, and social skills in children has declined. Thus, in a broad sense, Take It Outside California! not only is promoting a healthier lifestyle, but also is helping restore a society deprived of both potentially adequate and exceptional individuals. However, there is still variation in every population.
“I feel like I get outside a lot because every weekend I am always trying to go somewhere,” says Anika Spaulding, a sixteen year old student at John F. Kennedy High School. “I would go because I am an extrovert and love to do things.”
Encouraging Californians to go outside shall reduce their overall stress level as well, as an article on Prevention.com entitled The Natural Way To Calm Down states that researchers discovered surrounding yourself with nature can be a powerful way to relieve stress. As a result, weight gain shall decrease as well since stress increases one’s appetite for junk food.
This activity may as well be an indirect contribution in bettering children’s mental health, considering the fact that obese children suffer more from loneliness and nervousness than non-obese kids. This event not only is way to better the health of individuals, but can be an effort to simply make them happier and feel emotionally better within. This event is intended to be fun and enjoyable to all age groups as well-from kids to teens to adults.
Furthermore, this event is an effort to emphasize the necessity of conserving land and better the lives of those in lower economic levels. According to the project manager, Natalie Keeve, this event is part of their “Conservation Horizons” program. The program is “a vision for the future of land conservation,” continued Keeve. In addition, “this vision includes connecting all Californians, regardless of background or socioeconomic status, with our protected lands and finding ways to equitably connect conservation work with all California communities, particularly residents in park-poor and income-poor communities that have been traditionally underserved by conservation,” stated Keeve.
“As part of our mission, we are working to connect more Californians with the outdoors and ensure that every child, woman and man in California has the opportunity to experience the out-of-doors in a way that is unique and meaningful to them,” concluded Keeve.
You can find an event near you here and you can join the movement by taking the pledge to Take It Outside California! here. Currently, 51 people have already pledged!
On Saturday April 11th the Ubuntu Green organization held a fundraiser at Revolution Wines to raise money for their upcoming projects.
Check them out at http://www.ubuntugreen.org/
A free event entitled “Understanding How Health Happens Where You Live” will take place on April 6th, at the U.C. Davis MIND Institute Auditorium where people can discover and share the keys to individual health and overall well being. The evening will be filled with film clips, profession opinions, and a question and answer session all keeping with the theme of society’s impact on health equity.
“I helped plan the event to give community residents, service providers, elected officials, community leaders and researchers a forum to share their knowledge,” said Arthur Hernadez, project coordinator.
A moderated panel discussion will feature a number of Sacramento’s renowned health officials who will speak on the health topics they specialize in as well as answer audience questions.
“The event is a time for participants to reflect on how our health status is impacted by the society we have collectively designed,” said Hernadez.
By determining the negative impacts caused by our environment, it is hoped by the programs organizers that the population at large can formulate a plan to negate and then eradicate them.
“I hope neighborhoods across Sacramento will be empowered to make the necessary changes that can improve the health of their residents,” said Hernadez.
Food and drinks will be provided for the attendees by The California Endowment. The seating will be limited. To get a spot sign-up at Eventbrite.com under the title”Understanding How Health Happens Where You Live” or find more details at http://calendar.ucdavis.edu/event_detail.lasso?eventID=16684
My neighborhood, which is South Oak Park, is considered a food desert. That means affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain in my community, without transportation. But some residents have sparked solutions inside to this problem. One of the solutions is urban farming, which is bringing back agriculture into neighborhoods, such as mine. Urban farming is seen as a solution to provide healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables to impoverished communities.
First, residents who don’t have access to vehicles or transportation, instead of going to the grocery store, a person could just walk across the street, a few blocks, or even in their own front yard to get vegetables and fruits. Secondly, this saves money on your grocery bill because growing that produce you buy at the store will put a hole in your grocery bill. Third, it helps beautify the community. Many people want their communities to be healthy, elegant, and vibrant and having empty lots filled with unnecessary trash would defeat the purpose. Fourth, the resident can really experience organic, open pollenated vegetables, free from pesticides, herbicides, and different chemicals which are destructive to the human body. Finally, in Sacramento, many farmers around the region have teamed up together to create a coalition, which has the goal to change the ordinances in the city and county to allow residents to sell food in a residential areas. That means residents who need a little extra money can earn it from their homes.
“The goal of the urban agriculture ordinance is to legalize urban agriculture in the city and county of Sacramento. What we mean by agriculture is the ability to sell produce inside of town,” says Matt Read of the Sacramento’s Urban Agriculture Coalition. “This ordinance would help Sacramento realize its title as the “Farm to Fork Capital of the world”. What is missing from the equation is farms that can’t really go to the restaurant that are embracing this title right now, and there’s many people in many communities, who have been farming for a long period of time, that don’t get the credit for it. If we can legitimize urban agriculture then there will be potential there.”
I believe that urban farming is the right way to go because it adds value to your neighborhood making it more appealing to the eye, while also providing residents with access to healthy produce.
This month, local residents were given an opportunity to discuss the changes they wanted to see in their community. By participating in a BHC Charette, the voice of the community was used to create a plan for success.
“A Charette is a multi-day public planning process that has iterative forms of feedback,” says Katie Valenzuela Garcia with Ubuntu Green. “In theory if you came on one day and you came the next day, you wouldn’t be giving feedback on the same thing, but your feedback would grow as the plans started to be developed. The goal is to create a proactive plan that we can rally behind.”
The Charette focused on a variety of issues throughout Southern Sacramento, including Housing, Urban Agriculture, Circulation (Pedestrian Travel), Social Equity, Community Engagement, Economic Develpoment, and Environmental Health. Easy and interactive forms of feedback, including surveys, comment cards, and color-coded stickers, allowed participants to clearly present the changes they wanted to see in their communities.
For younger participants, the experience was particularly valuable.
“I would describe this event as empowering and informational, because this event is taking in youth voice,” said Yeshayah Yisreal, youth participant. “When we [youth] go to the city council, they usually…exclude our voice, but this event is taking in our voice and is going to let us have some say in what’s happening in our community.”
The Charette, which spanned a full week, aimed to isolate the factors that inhibit the development of struggling communities.
“We’ve been really pleased with the number of folks that have come out and the feedback that we’ve gotten,” says Valenzuela Garcia. “We know the issues and we hear a lot of the issues, but [we want] to have a vision, that we can all say ‘this is what we’re trying to get to.’ We want to show the residents in this area what’s possible.”
To learn more about the BHC Initiative, click here. See below for photos from the BHC Charette.
On Saturday, June 14th, Always Knocking Incorporated, the Sacramento Building Healthy Communities Hub, and the Sierra Health Foundation will host “A Day in the Park: Saving Our Sons and Brothers”, an event designed to celebrate male togetherness. The free event will be located at Tahoe Park from 10 am to 3 pm.
Always Knocking Inc. is an organization that strives to promote the growth of young and grown colored men through community support and healing.
“If we’re going to heal the community, people have got to start working together,” says the organization’s founder, Gregory King. “We have healing circles every week dealing with alcoholism and drugs. To do something for [their] family, first, a man has to heal.”
According to naacp.org, “African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.” Organizations like Always Knocking Inc. strive to change these statistics.
King hopes that the upcoming event will have a tremendous impact on struggling community members. The event is open to boys and men of color, as well as ten informational or non-profit vendors, who RSVP by May 10th.
“We’ll be celebrating the work that we’ve been doing, and we’ll also celebrate the work that we will continue to do,” King adds. “The celebration is going to be huge, [but] you’ve got to come to the event to find out [what’s happening].”
Anyone interested in attending the event may contact King by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (916) 470.2077.
Featured image courtesy of www.wecedyouth.org.
The California Food Literacy Center will hold an open house celebration on May 1st from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. This event will be hosted on the second floor of the Medical Society Building at 5380 Elvas Avenue. There will be tours of the new Food Literacy Center office space, a “meet and greet” with the Food Geniuses and board members, wine tasting and snacks, and craft stations and cooking demos.
“Our new office is a milestone symbolic of how far we’ve come,” said Amber Stott, founding executive director. “Our progress has been a team effort, and for those who haven’t yet met the team or experienced our fun approach to food literacy, our open house is your chance.”
The California Food Literacy Center defines food literacy as “understanding the impact of our food choices on our health, the environment, and our community”. CFLC educates the community in a variety of different ways, one of which is the workshop that will be held on May 1st. Their Food Geniuses deliver free healthy eating and food literacy workshops to Sacramento Schools.
The California Food Literacy Center was founded by Stott in 2011 to inform the community about food literacy. With 70 volunteers who serve 2,400 students annually, the Food Literacy Center teaches students about vegetable appreciation, how to read nutrition labels, and basic cooking skills. 70% of students who received the food literacy education wanted to eat the healthy foods that were served to them in their food literacy classes.
The three year old non-profit was able to raise $130,000 in one year, “But if we want to make sure all kids have access to food literacy,” says Stott, “we need to double our budget in 2014.”
You can RSVP for this event by sending an email to email@example.com.
According to a recent poll sponsored by the California Endowment, two out of three voters believe that beverages with high amounts of sugar should have higher taxes, with proceeds redistributed to healthier school lunches and better physical activity programs.
With the economy still feeling the effects of the downturn and school funding levels at a drastic low, opportunities to enhance the education system seem few and far between. However, donors like the California Endowment provide the necessary funds to enact that change. In 2012, the Building Healthy Communities initiative, an ongoing program funded by the California Endowment, helped students at Sunset High School petition their school district for healthier lunches.
The Building Healthy Communities program, or BHC, is “a 10-year commitment to making our neighborhoods healthy for our children,” according to sacbhc.org. The program strives to promote healthier behaviors and to broaden access to healthy choices.
In Del Norte County, California, one of the many regions where BHC program has been implemented, a BHC youth organizer aided students in the process of determining the favorable and improvable qualities of their high school. The process of surveying and voting resulted in a multitude of students dedicated to the same cause—the improvement of health standards for their school lunches.
This group of students, called the student organizing committee, was determined to reinvent their school’s idea of nutrition. Over the course of the next two months, the committee extensively researched plausible solutions to unhealthy school lunches. They consulted with various members of their community including a pediatrician, the Del Norte County Unified School District’s head of nutrition, and Superintendent Don Olson.
The students proposed a four-point policy for the improvement their school lunches. In place of a multitude of pre-packaged and overly processed foods, the policy instead substituted three hot meals a week, and added a salad bar loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. After Deputy Superintendent Rodney Jahn agreed to the policy at the ultimate “action meeting,” healthier, more balanced lunches were implemented at Sunset High School.
To see the story from the perspective of the students, click here.
This success story is one of many, thanks to the Building Healthy Communities program and the California Endowment. Local Oak Park residents, as members of a BHC region, also have the vital potential to enact change within their communities. Here in the capital of California, with the support of the BHC program, the opportunity to petition organizations for change is boundless.