Since 2017, Community Health Councils (CHC) has been implementing Healthy Kids Zone (HKZ), an initiative that brings together community members within a ½ mile radius of Fremont High School in South LA to work on health promoting policy and systems level solutions to community identified challenges.
In 2018-2019, one of HKZ’s core collaborative partners – LA Commons – launched a community revitalization project related to HKZ’s improving streetscapes priority area, leveraging additional funding from The California Endowment. This project brought together community artists, students from Fremont, and community residents to create greater awareness and value around the school-based clinic operated by UMMA and the community garden, two core community assets adjacent to the school. Building from initial data collected by HKZ Ambassadors, 25 Latino and Black youth collected stories from over 75 community members on the challenges and vision for positive health. They worked with artist Amani Holbert to create images that were placed on large metal medallions that were then installed along the border fence of the clinic. These medallions aimed to promote the shared vision for a healthier community and give exposure to needed community resources.
In 2019, CHC was funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Art and Culture to continue collaborating with LA Commons, to expand the HKZ Fence Medallion project. Everything was set to start when the schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic creating challenges in connecting with the students. However, through a lot of persistence and partnership with Fremont staff, HKZ partners, and HKZ Artists and Youth Mentors, youth were recruited, and everything moved to a virtual setting.
- Starting May 6 and continuing to the present, 15 youth met with the arts team two hours weekly via Zoom to learn and further develop art skills, learn about the HKZ initiative, reflect on social justice and equity issues through art, and prepare for the launch of the story gathering component.
- The online story gathering circle was held in June with 25 people of all ages in attendance. The stories gathered during the June session, along with the stories shared by the youth participants in earlier sessions will form the creative inspiration of the artwork for the Medallions.
- The 2020 lead artists Jose Lozano and Brittney Price made free art activity videos to share with families. Which can be seen here https://youtu.be/M8RSs-4BREI and https://youtu.be/bHqKZ2Cxiuc
In the coming months, the students will collaborate with the community artists to finalize the design of the next set of medallions and complete them by the end of August. The team will then work with the administration at Fremont High School to install the Fence Medallions in October. The new medallions will be placed on the back fence at Fremont on Avalon Boulevard to support several HKZ priorities related to the streetscapes impact on public health safety and food insecurity.
Most efforts aimed to address how systemic and structural challenges affect the health of low-income communities of color usually take a top down approach that often fails in the absence of authentic community involvement. In contrast, Healthy Kids Zones, through its collaborative partners and ground-up methods, has created an opportunity for inter generational stakeholders to bring stories, creativity, and culture to bear in the design of and advocacy for their neighborhood. As local stakeholders are provided the opportunities to work together to uplift existing assets and inform the creation of a healthy community, their sense of social cohesion and agency increases along with the physical transformations.
To learn more or support the efforts contact Sonya Vasquez, Chief Transformation Officer.