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A schoolyard comes back to life

January 24, 2011
A schoolyard comes back to life

Gay Olivos loves Willard Intermediate School. It’s a family thing. Olivos, her father and grandfather graduated from the Santa Ana junior high on the corner of Ross Street and Washington Avenue. Her family’s history is here, and Olivos wants to preserve the place that holds so many good memories. “When I was growing up, we would always go to Willard and play,” she said. The Willard schoolyard was where Olivos and the neighborhood kids went to run and fly kites after school and on weekends. But time, neglect and the statewide school funding crisis changed the grassy, five-acre field where Olivos played into a disheveled lot with portable classrooms parked on asphalt. The field was fenced, gates were locked, and Santa Ana’s children lost a rare piece of open space in one of California’s most densely-populated cities. See Margaret Simpson’s story on how Olivos and her husband helped bring the old schoolyard back to life.

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Wellness without Limits Is the Goal

October 24, 2010

“We’re walking to the Moon,” says Linda Reich, deputy director of community services for the City of Chino.
Reich is talking about the newest goal of the city’s Chino Walks program, the adult walking club that is the cornerstone of its Healthy Chino wellness initiative. Since its beginning in 2005, Reich has logged every step the club’s members have accrued in their quest for fitness. In Chino, where 68 percent of residents are obese and five of the city’s 10 leading causes of death are obesity-related, wellness is serious business. In public health surveys, Chino’s obesity rate is higher than both San Bernardino County at 65 percent and the State of California at 55 percent. Margaret T. Simpson has the story.

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A beach town moves to a wellness beat

October 17, 2010

Can a city redefine itself through health and wellness? Long Beach wants to try, and its residents are the reason. The city is the voice of the people, and the people want pedestrian-friendly streets, bicycle lanes, grocery stores and cooking seminars. Wellness doesn’t come cheap, but Long Beach is hoping its ambitious portfolio of grants and innovative programs will attract new funders eager to participate in this urban laboratory that recently hired its own Bike Ambassador, Olympic cyclist Tony Cruz. Margaret Simpson has the story.

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A city learns to market wellness

October 11, 2010

The city of El Monte sponsors a walking club and is working with local convenience stores to stock more healthy alternatives to junk food and alcohol. The efforts are part of the Healthy El Monte initiative, which seeks to combat high rates of obesity and diabetes in a city of 125,000 sandwiched between major freeways and industrial sites. Margaret Simpson has the story.

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City tries to clean up, green up, alleys in Southeast LA

September 2, 2010

The Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles is beginning a new kind of community health project—cleaning up the dirty and dangerous alleys that surround the apartment complexes throughout South East LA and turn them into safe, useable spaces for residents to exercise and grow gardens. The project is just one of many that is funded by a $16 million grant the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health won from the federal economic stimulus package to increase the quality of life and access to healthy food and exercise for Los Angeles County residents. Megan Baier has the story.

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Carson, Tongan Center, expand anti-tobacco programs

September 1, 2010

The Tongan Community Service Center in Los Angeles is working with the city of Carson to develop anti-tobacco policies with federal stimulus money in an effort to reduce the incidence of asthma and other diseases related to smoking and poor air quality. Megan Baier has the story.

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Teens work toward peace in Pasadena’s ‘Culture Shock’ program

August 11, 2010

Dismayed by a teen culture based on intolerance and stereotypes, directors of local nonprofit youth programs in Pasadena designed Culture Shock, a week-long summer workshop that teaches conflict resolution and leadership skills to teens ages 13-17 from the city’s public and private high schools. To hear the teens tell it, the results have been impressive. Margaret Simpson has the story.

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El Monte Links Health and Wellness to New “Tree Power” Project

July 28, 2010

The city of El Monte is changing the health of its residents by changing the landscape. With the help of a nonprofit partner and 740 new trees, El Monte is creating an urban forest to remedy its unique environmental and health challenges.

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Summer Food Program reaches out to low-income families

July 8, 2010

Last year 1.9 million California children who were eligible for free meals in the summer months did not take advantage of the program. This year, summer program managers are trying to make sure that any child who needs a meal, gets one. See our report on the program from HealthyCal.org contributor Margaret Simpson.

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Three new homes link Logan Barrio’s future, past

May 13, 2010

The neighborhood kids who spend afternoons playing in Santa Ana’s Chepa’s Park may have heard tales of Josephina “Chepa” Andrade. The woman known as “La Reina de la Logan” united a generation of activists in a fight against city hall and helped to create the park that now bears her name. But they probably aren’t aware that her legacy is living on at the other side of the park’s handball court. One of Chepa’s four daughters recently moved with her extended family into a new, four-bedroom home after winning a city lottery to buy the house at below market rates.

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