I am Natasha Bussy. I’m 16 years old and I am senior at University City High School. Before that I was at elementary school at Blankenberg and middle school at Sulzberger. I grew up in West Philadelphia and I care a lot about my community. I guess you could say I am a community food activist and I want to be a leader in my community. When I was a freshman in high school I volunteered to work in the garden at my school. After I turned 14 in December 2004 I got job as a peer food educator in June 2005. That summer I was part of a crew of high school students that taught children in the community how to cook healthy foods. We taught at a church, a private school and a homeless shelter. Over the summer we taught more than 100 children 5 different healthy recipes. I was student leader of the peer cooking program until April 2007 when I switched back to working in the garden. The garden promotes access to healthy foods because we harvest twice a week and sell our organic produce in our community and we also donate to churches. I like being involved in this kind of work because it feels good to make a difference in my community and as a young leader I need to show people that young black people do care about making their communities stronger and healthier. I want to see more healthy foods in community, more access to fruits and vegetables, more youth with a passion to make things better. I want to see a healthier community and I believe it can start with food which is something every person needs.
Poor nutrition and obesity are problems in my community. People stay inside their houses too much and they don’t exercise. I think a lot of people think you have to join a gym and lift weights to get in shape. I really think people have lost the knowledge of just how to exercise on their own. Also people in my community do not have access to healthy foods. Most people shop at cornerstores and there are not a lot of healthy foods in these stores. Most people in my community do know nutrition basics – don’t eat too much salt or you will get high blood pressure, don’t eat too much sugar or you will get diabetes. But people don’t know much about whole grains and fiber and about good fats and bad fats. People might think about food in a negative way because so many people are overweight. I would like healthy foods to be the focus of an ongoing community celebration.
As you can tell from Essay # 1 I have a lot of experience improving nutrition in my community. You could say that I have been doing research for this project for the past 3 years. Me and my organization already have many good things started but I want to expand to reach more people. I want to do this through a youth-led project that I call Healthy Block Party on Wheels. My team of youth gardeners and peer food educators will partner with young athletes and create a program that we can take to the streets to educate thousands of people in my community. Block parties are a big tradition in Philly. Every Saturday from May to September there are tons of parties. Usually there are lots of kids and families at the parties and also a lot chips, hot dogs, burgers and soda. I think block parties are a great time to reach people and teach them about nutrition, exercise and health. The Healthy Block Party on Wheels will have three major parts; 1) We will do a healthy cooking demonstration; 2) We will sell healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, just like our farmers’ market; 3) We will have music and do an organized stretching, dancing, and aerobics activity. I think this will be a great addition to block parties but we could also take this same program to after-school clubs during the winter months when there are not block parties. Also, this will become part of what people in Philadelphia do, just like block parties. Now at block parties people will exercise, especially children, people will snack on healthy foods, people will learn a new recipe. Soon, I hope people will start demanding healthy foods in cornerstores and cornerstores will take note that people are eating a whole lot of healthy foods at block parties. Also what I like about this project is that it is very visible. People will see young people biking around their community with a message of health, fitness and fun to deliver to block parties and they will know that young people are working hard to lift up their neighborhood.
This project will happen in communities out in West and North Philadelphia starting in May 2008 and going to at least December 2008. We hope and believe that we can keep the project going longer than that. We will need to start preparing for the project in January 2008. We need to purchase bicycles, cooking supplies, yoga mats, exercise equipment, a boom box and bicycle carts that will allow us to move all these supplies around the community.
Healthy Block Party on Wheels Budget
4 Bicycles (Used) $300
Bike Trailers/ Carts $300
Yoga Mats $200
Exercise Equipment $200
Boom Box $50
Food for Cooking Demos $900
Cooking Supplies $300
Healthy Block Party T Shirts $250