I have lived and worked in East Oakland for the past six years. I work with youth primarily in high school. My idea for a project arises after some of the students I work with have chosen anorexia as a topic to study. My project addresses the decisions and options low-income, inner-city high school students have when it comes to choosing healthy food and self image. The East Oakland community does not have a variety of accessible healthy food, but it is filled with fast food places. Youth have to see images of skinny models on television and media in general, but have to live in a community that values such images and does not offer any healthy food options to maintain such a thin image. Students have their school gym to work out and live a healthy life, because walking and jogging at the park and in the neighborhood is not the safest idea. Therefore, the youth have to maintain a body image by having unhealthy food as the main option and no safe space to carry out physical education.
After thinking about a realistic idea for a project, I decided I would like to work with the student club we are beginning to start at an Oakland high school. The students want to get involved in the community and are part of the health academy, however, we have not made health conscious decisions thus far. I provide the students with lunch/snacks during our weekly meetings. My personal budget does not allow me to spend more than $10 a week, so the majority of the time I offer them candies, cookies, and chips, or pizza. The students have just adopted a class of elementary students and want to serve as role models and carry out activities with the elementary students. If we receive this grant, I can use the money to: increase the healthy options of food I offer during the meetings, begin a garden in our high school that has fruits and vegetables, and educate the students in the club about healthy lifestyles and the positive effect it has on their health as well as on body image. Although we will not be able to change the safety and food options of the neighborhood, we can educate ourselves and the younger generation of students to make health conscious decisions. Thus improving our health and our image.