How to effectively engage and empower youth in identifying heathy resources in their community and advocating for change?

In 2014, Healthy City partnered with the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA) and their FRESH Space Summer Program, a two-part community-mapping program that aimed to educate and engage high school and college youth from Historic Filipinotown around their local community conditions, especially food access issues.


In the first part of the program, youth conducted a community assessment of their neighborhood by strategically identifying appropriate research methods, which included walking routes throughout Historic Filipinotown to collect key information about neighborhood. The youth then proceeded to engage themselves within the community’s makeup, such as documenting types of community businesses, institutions, etc., taking photos of an entity’s external façade, and jotting other notable remarks, including business hours and location in the form of addresses. Furthermore, for retail spaces where food was sold, program participants were asked to note additional data, including whether or not the store sold fresh produce and if present, prices of certain fresh produce items.

The second part of the program was the creation of their online map. Once all their data points were identified, the youth input written data (i.e. descriptions and notes) and visual data (i.e. pictures and videos) onto a HeathyCity.org WikiMap and created a map organizing their data into various categories, such as small/corner food stores, medium-sized neighborhood markets, and restaurants/bakeries. Through this community assessment, the youth developed key recommendations around food access and presented their findings to their local elected official. Key recommendations included the development of a local Healthy Store Recognition program for Council District 13 and the development of a local youth council across the 13th district to strengthen local youth engagement and leadership around youth-related issues.

Key Findings (as of August 2014):
  • Historic Filipinotown had a total of 25 food retail stores, of which 17, were considered ‘small’ and offer little to no produce options.
  • Only one small store in Historic Filipinotown offered a full range of fresh produce items (Don Baraton Discount Store).
  • As of September 2014, there are now 3 small stores in Historic Filipinotown that offer a full range of fresh produce items (including L.A. San Miguel and Amigo’s Market).
  • Historic Filipinotown had a total of 33 restaurants and bakeries, of which only four, offer what could be considered ‘healthy’ menu options.
Effective Strategies:
  • Engaging youth throughout the process (identifying strategic assessment routes to engaging elected officials on their findings/recommendations).
  • Using various methods for collecting community information (experiential, paper survey, and photos).
  • Using visuals to effectively communicate recommendations/messages to elected officials.
Partner Profile:

The Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA) is a division of Special Service for Groups, Inc. (SSG), a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization based in Downtown Los Angeles.

APIOPA, established in 2007, mobilizes and convenes local stakeholders and communities through education and outreach to address the growing rates of obesity among Asian and Pacific Islander (API) residents in Los Angeles County. APIOPA strives to empower (API) communities to improve their health by proactively addressing social, cultural, environmental, and political factors that contribute to the growing rates of obesity among API residents in Los Angeles County.

Find out more about APIOPA here.

Special Service for Groups (SSG) is a nonprofit organization that provides innovative services to diverse ethnic minority and disenfranchised communities by developing, in collaboration with community groups, models for service delivery and community self-sufficiency.

Find out more about SSG here.

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