The Bronx District Public Health Office (BX. DPHO) engages youth in the South Bronx to become civically, socially and academically engaged in various health issues including obesity, physical activity, nutrition, teen pregnancy prevention, asthma, and tobacco control. As a member, I help The Bronx DPHO collect local data to inform programmatic activities, address negative outcomes and increase health equity.
On Saturday, January 29, 2011, I, and a group of other teens attended the NYC Food and Fitness Partnership’s film screening of What’s On Your Plate? at the Horticultural Society of New York. In partnership with different organization, they wanted to engage teens in the discussion of food and fitness in our neighborhoods. As a result, the NYC Food and Fitness Partnership created a youth planning committee, who met on various occasion and actively planned the day. These youths came from different organizations such as The Bronx District Public Health Office Youth Advisory Board, Brotherhood/Sister Sol and Family Cook Productions, The Brooklyn Rescue Mission, El Puente and Coro New York Leadership Center. Kenny and I represented the Bx. DPHO YAB at these meetings. Despite the bad weather, a reasonable amount of young people and adults came to the event.
At the beginning of the event, there were three work stations led by Family Cook Productions, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, and the Bronx District Public Health Office Youth Advisory Board (Bx. DPHO YAB) which showcased part of the work that we all do: cooking, physical fitness, gardening and nutrition. All the topics presented were related to healthy eating habits and being fit. We, the Bx. DPHO YAB, educated participants how to understand the nutritional content and count the calories in their favorite Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) the largest single driver of the obesity epidemic affecting NYC residents today. According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Americans are consuming 200-300 more calories per day than 30 years ago, with the largest single increase due to SSB. As members of the YAB, Kenny and I, carry out an activity were participants learned ‘How Much Sugar’ their favorite SSB has.
Following the tabling session we watched a movie called ‘What’s On Your Plate?’ about two girls who lived in New York City and made a movie about connecting the food on their plates to where the food comes is grown. The movie was very interesting and raised many issues about food and health: the role farmers markets splay connecting their produce to the food in our plates; the relationship of diabetes and obesity; and the power we have to make changes. After the movie there was an open discussion about what we, the teens, can do as the young voices in our community to promote healthy food. We also talked about things which affect food in our communities.
Overall the event was a great way to get different ideas from teen leaders in diverse communities around New York City. I believe this youth event was a stepping stone for many great things yet to come. If the voices of future leaders in our country continue to be involved, a powerful change will happen and the obesity epidemic affecting teens will end.