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Mid-City CAN Blog

Youth from across California talk about health

From left, Mid-City CAN Youth Council Members Leslie Renteria, Angeli Hernandez, Terry Stanley and Erick Hernandez represented City Heights at The California Endowment's Statewide convening of young people on Oct. 10 and 11 in Los Angeles.  Photo courtesy The California Endowment
From left, Mid-City CAN Youth Council Members Leslie Renteria, Angeli Hernandez, Terry Stanley and Erick Hernandez represented City Heights at The California Endowment's Statewide convening of young people on Oct. 10 and 11 in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy The California Endowment

On Oct. 10 and 11, four Mid-City CAN Youth Council members traveled to the California Endowment in Los Angeles to learn about and celebrate Building Healthy Communities youth-led efforts. Building Healthy Communities is a 10-year, $1 billion effort to change the way that health happens in 14 communities through California, including City Heights. Mid-City CAN Youth Council Members Angeli Hernandez, Terry Stanley, Erick Hernandez and Leslie Renteria represented City Heights at the gathering.

By Leslie Renteria

"Story telling is a form of art," said Dr. Anthony Iton, senior vice-president of The California Endowment, as he introduced the youth and staff at the Building Healthy Community's Statewide Convening on Oct. 10.


Fourteen different cities across California organized to build healthier communities with different resident-led efforts, especially by incorporating art in their work. On Oct. 10 and 11, the 14 different BHC sites gathered to learn and share out the power of their stories. They also demonstrated the impact a story creates to promote health and transform a community.


My involvement with Mid-City CAN and BHC has enabled me to use the different resources around me --to create awareness and a change in my community.

The art/film festival was an opportunity to see what other sites are advocating for in their own community and how they are organizing to create change. Storytelling is something that is commonly used among the sites to reflect the struggles residents overcome. During the event, I related to a story that a Latina woman, Josefina Lopez from Boyle Heights, shared. She grew up as an undocumented youth in her community with a mentality that she was intended to become the stereotypical Latina woman, a housewife. Her mentality did not allow her to focus on her education. But, she realized that she was different from the "typical" Latino students in her neighborhood. She decided to continue her education, although she was undergoing struggles.
"I wanted to take a knife on my wrist, instead I got a pencil on my hand," she said.


She became a playwright and spiritual healer.

Listening to her powerful story made me reflect on how I want my life to be, as a young, undocumented woman of color, I also have the opportunities to succeed and create a change. It encouraged me to also share out my story because there are many other youth in City Heights who are in the same situation which Josefina was, and I am currently in. BHC works towards supporting the youth to become the leaders of change, by giving them the opportunities to learn from different young organizers in other sites. Creating a healthier community does not mean giving it medical attention. Educating the youth about their rights as young men and women of color, through efforts like The California Endowment's Boys and Men of Color and Sisterhood Rising campaigns, makes it healthier. Communities can benefit and become healthier by incorporating better land use, easing transportation issues, etc. All these factors contribute to a person's and a community's health.

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The Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's mission is to create a safe, productive,Quotation (Right)
and healthy community through collaboration, advocacy, and organizing.




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