BHC partners showed up to the Kern High School District Board meeting Monday May 7th in support of redistributing KHSD boundaries equitably. About 150 community members, mostly from South Kern, along with organizations such as the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Leadership Counsel, Committee for a Better Arvin, and Comité Progreso de Lamont spoke at the meeting, asking Board Members to make sure their communities are fairly represented as the new boundaries are determined. The Board will make their final decision when they vote at their next meeting, May 21st.

Throughout the State, youth are finding their voice and developing skills to effectively advocate, and to move into leadership and decision-making positions. YO! California (Youth Organize California) is building leadership pathways and acting as the anchor organization for youth organizing across the State. Jeremy Lehoud from YO! California spoke with BHC Kern partners about they work they’ve been doing that impacts Kern County Youth.
One of the results has been the newly formed South Kern Youth Advisory Council (SKYAC). Led by Margie Madera from the Lamont Boys and Girls Club and Jose Pinto of the Greenfield Walking Group, SKYAC was created to train, encourage, organize, and mobilize youth aged 15-24. The Council is currently accepting applications from youth interested in participating.
For more information, please contact Margie Madera at Mmadera@bgclubsofkerncounty.org or Jose Pinto at Pinto.jose46@yahoo.com
On Wednesday May 9th, the US Census Bureau and California Complete Count staff hosted a Regional Readiness Assessment Convening at the Beale Library. Rolling out the timeline for the 2020 census, the speakers shared changes in the administration of the census, the need for local organizations and individuals to collaborate to ensure hard to reach populations are counted, and employment opportunities for local residents.
At this point, the focus is on outreach to hard to reach populations, starting with assembling a diverse network of local organizations that will work together with their respective constituencies to get the word out that every Californian needs to be counted. Without an accurate count, California and Kern County will not receive adequate funding for public services such as schools, health care, and infrastructure. Even our voice at the national level is impacted because the Census count determines how many Representatives California has in Congress. In addition, many Census-related job opportunities will be available for Kern residents over the next two years; ranging from management positions to door-to-door neighborhood canvasing teams. For the first time, an electronic version of the census will be available, allowing individuals to complete the information on-line. Stay tuned as we near 2020!

By Ja’Nell Gore, South Kern Sol

Every year, some local high schools have assemblies recognizing Cinco de Mayo – a holiday largely ignored in Mexico, but held up in America as a day to celebrate Mexican culture with piñatas, tacos and a lot of alcohol. Meanwhile, throughout the whole month of February, my high school has done nothing to commemorate Black History Month.

Schools should be doing something to show appreciation, or even just acknowledge the evolution of black history – but at Bakersfield High School, nothing like that happened last month.

I would have loved to attend an assembly where they focused on my culture and history, opening the eyes of kids who know little about it.

And this desire of mine isn’t uncalled for, especially in a district that has acknowledged it engaged in a years-long practice of disproportionately suspending and expelling minority students, including African Americans. The district was sued, settling the lawsuit last year for more than $670,000. Among the settlement terms? The district must recognize Black History Month and allow students to celebrate.

Instead of taking initiative and organizing such a celebration, they are leaving it up to students. Considering that most students have never planned a school event (or don’t even know they have the option) why would they ‘leave it to the kids’?

Building Healthy Communities Kern in partnership with South Kern Sol youth media, have launched a new youth-produced webcast. “In the 661” will present stories, current events and good work happening in the community- all through a lens of health and racial equity.The show not only gives youth the opportunity to learn about what it takes to produce a video segment, but it also gives young journalists the opportunity to lift up issues that matter to them and might otherwise go untold.

There’s a lot of good work happening across the community, but rarely do organizations or residents who are working to improve community health have the opportunity to amplify their voice via mainstream media.

This show gives residents and organizations the opportunity to examine health in interesting and innovative ways. Health doesn’t only happen in a doctor’s office. Health happens where we work live and play. Health happens when people tap into their power, work together and change the odds in their neighborhoods.

The show will be aired weekly on “In the 661’s” Facebook page and will be shared widely on Building Healthy Communities Kern’s website and social media platforms.

The new show is produced by South Kern Sol youth reporters, Alejandra Alberto, Dean Welliver, Marilu Cisneros, and Veronica Morley and hosted by former KGET news anchor, Kiyoshi Tomono.