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Westside Residents Awarded Plots

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SAN BERNARDINO

Revitalized Community Garden at Anne Shirrells Park
 

Six Westside residents planted and will harvest fresh fruits and vegetables in a new community garden that was launched today at Anne Shirrells Park thanks to a collaboration of community partners including faith-based organizations, local residents and the City of San Bernardino. The garden, part of a continuing effort to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables in San Bernardino's Westside neighborhood, was officially unveiled during the Network for a Healthy California (Network)-African American Campaign's 2008 Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change held at the Park, 1367 N. California Street in San Bernardino.

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Six Westside residents recieve garden plots: (left to right): Reverend Bronica Martindale (far left) and Dr. Astrid Mickens - Williams (far right) present garden plots to Westside residents (starting with second person on left ): Darlyne Hill; Champion Mom Maiia Carrington; Rio Vista Elementary teacher Marc Walos standing in for Robledo Family and Hernandez Family; Pastor Turner; and Cindra Weber.

The Forum showcased the efforts of empowered African American Champions for Change working in collaboration with a variety of community partners to change the landscape of their neighborhoods by increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables to support healthier lifestyles.

"As a resident in the California Gardens neighborhood, I know how important it is to the health of my family to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables, " said Maiia Carrington, Network for a Healthy California-Desert Sierra Region Champion Mom. " The garden is a huge step forward in making changes that will have lasting impact in the community."

In addition to the plots, the Network will also sponsor gardening education classes at Rio Vista Elementary School, which is adjacent to the garden. The classes will include weekly visits by a master gardener who will use the garden as a teaching laboratory for the students.

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Mayor Morris gives a proclamation from the City of San Bernardino to Reverend Bronica Martindale, president of the California Gardens Neighborhood Cluster Asssociation, during the 2008 Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change.
According to Dr. Astrid Mickens - Williams, Coordinator, Network for a Healthy California-Desert Sierra Region African American Campaign, the garden revitalization is the result of the community collaboration's hard work and dedication.

"The collaboration partners, especially our Champion Moms, are dedicated to making sure that the Anne Shirrells garden project is one of the first steps toward increased availability of fruits and vegetables for Westside residents," said Mickens - Williams. "By eliminating as many barriers as possible to healthy living, we can begin to turn around the alarming number of health disparities that confront many low-income neighborhoods.

"It's important to reinforce with our Champions for Change Moms and community residents that through organizing and collaborating they can become change agents creating sustainable improvements in their neighborhoods, " added Mickens - Williams.

The Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change comes on the heels of a recent African American Campaign survey of 1,732 African American adults in California.  The respondents - primarily women (87.8 percent) from low-income households (71.8 percent) - were very aware of the potential negative health impacts overweight and obesity can cause. While nearly all (94 percent) agreed that being overweight or obese can cause serious health problems like diabetes, cancer or heart disease, only one-third were eating the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables for good health. Local neighborhood collaborations are working together to seek solutions like increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables so that health outcomes improve in low-income African American communities.

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(left to right) Teslyn Henry, MPH, RD; Reverend Bronica Martindale, Linda Davis lead guests doing the Harvest Dance during the 2008 Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change.

The Forum is presented by the Network for a Healthy California-Desert Sierra Region African American Campaign and the California Gardens Neighborhood Cluster Association in cooperation with Operation Phoenix, City of San Bernardino Parks & Recreation, Rio Vista Elementary School, Inland Orange Conservancy, and Temple Community Outreach Center.

The Network works with more than 300 different public, non-profit and business partners throughout the state to empower low-income Californians to consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and enjoy physical activity every day. Principal funding is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Stamp Program, an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information, visit the Network's Web sites at www.networkforahealthycalifornia.net   or www.cachampionsforchange.net.

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