A South L.A. school is paving the way for more green spaces in underserved communities.

This L.A. school garden isn't just growing fresh fruits and veggies — they're also growing the leaders of tomorrow.

In South Los Angeles, there is a 1.5-acre lot filled with bountiful garden beds growing everything from collard greens to kumquats.

On a crisp day in sunny L.A., students from all walks of life are tending to the fresh fruits and colorful veggies. Some are watering newly planted seedlings, while others are gathering jalapeños and kale for the freshest taco ever.

All images via GAP, used with permission.


This lot, called the Fremont Wellness Center and Community Garden, is located at the John C. Fremont High School campus, and it also has a small park, a community health clinic, and a soon-to-be-finished 1,500-square-foot greenhouse.

"It’s a big thriving community" says Megan Laird, the garden and youth program manager. And with so many opportunities all in one space, it's easy to see why.

One reason this green space is flourishing is because of the Gardening Apprenticeship Program, or GAP for short.

"It’s a program where high school youth from the John C. Fremont High School campus can come and participate in a course that trains [them] to become leaders in health, urban agriculture, and civic engagement," says Laird.

Through a 10-week program in the spring and the fall, the students learn about local and industrial food systems, how food justice affects communities, and how they can turn this knowledge into action within the larger community. And, of course, they learn basic gardening skills and environmental science.

"By the end of the 10 weeks, we feel confident that the youth are familiar with not just how the fruits and vegetables are grown on the site, but what they can do with them moving forward," adds Laird.

The project was started by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT), a nonprofit with a mission to promote safer and stronger communities by creating more urban parks and community gardens — something severely lacking in L.A.'s underserved neighborhoods.

The best part? The students are applying the lessons in their own lives.

"The biggest lesson that I have learned during my time in this program has been becoming a leader," writes Elizabeth Castro, a GAP student staff leader, in an email. "I am not as shy as I was before and it has helped me prioritize my education and future."

Other students say that being in the garden has helped them get through tough times in their lives, allowing them to open up about their battles with stress and depression. Some have also spearheaded efforts to partner with the environmental club on campus to collect food scraps for composting and waste reduction. No matter the hurdle, they overcome it as a unit.

"What I love most about working in the garden is that I can work with friends and know that the work we do can be shared with the community," writes Kevin Nagrete, a GAP apprentice leader, in an email.

More than just having loads of fun, the students are also helping expand the program.

GAP regularly invites professional chefs to demo how to use the produce in the garden to make healthy delicious dishes at home. In fact, GAP has seen so much success with their nutrition programs that they're now also partnering with the UC Cooperative Extension to create a new culinary after-school course.

These developments are particularly important given that it can be difficult to access fresh foods in certain areas of L.A. In South L.A., 72% of the restaurants are fast-food establishments. Plus, 90% of the food retailers are small stores that often don't provide healthy alternatives. And if they do, they usually lack the quality and freshness that you'd find in more affluent neighborhoods.

Thankfully, GAP's seed of change is well on its way to growing more green spaces (and even more leaders).

A 2006 UCLA study found that Los Angeles was well behind other major west coast cities in terms of park space. Even worse, a 2016 report done by the LANLT found that less than 30% of the total L.A. population — the majority of which are from low-income communities — have access to parks in their area.

That's why a group of GAP leaders are branching out and becoming involved in a separate program by the LANLT — the Park Equity Leadership Academy. Through this program, the students join other L.A. communities in advocating for more green spaces all around the city.

It's the next big step in their growth as leaders and one that'll pave the way for a brighter and greener future.

If you want to help out their cause, you can do so right here and follow all their progress on Instagram.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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