By Chyna Patz, South Kern Sol

West High School has a bullying problem.

Walk around West High any school day and you can find somebody on campus who has been personally affected by bullying, or knows a student who has. I have tested this, and found that every student I had spoken to, had been subjected to bullying, at least once at West.

There have even been times when I have had to watch a close friend get called names, just for being gay. All I could do was hold them and tell them it would be alright.

I’ve had friends physically hurt by bullies, to the point where they felt unsafe coming to school.

I’ve personally been shoved by bullies in hallways and made fun of. I know how other victims feel.

Report after report had been filed by victims,  but there was hardly any effort to change the culture until a student who felt their only option was suicide filed a complaint. That set in motion something that has been sorely needed — an anti-bullying assembly to be hosted Tuesday and Thursday.

Click here to read more from South Kern Sol. 

This story was also published in the Bakersfield Californian on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.  

Several health care facilities across Kern County are teaming up to hold enrollment events before the deadline on January 31 to help area residents navigate the process.

“We are coming together to provide community residents with an opportunity to find out about their health coverage options and to enroll into a qualified health plan before Open Enrollment ends,” Clinica Sierra Vista Chief Operating Officer Bill Phelps said.

Phelps added that interest is up this year compared to last year but does not have official numbers yet.

The community is invited to attend the next enrollment event, which will be held Saturday, January 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Valley Plaza Mall between Macy’s and JC Penney.

For more information call Clinica Sierra Vista at (661) 328-4245 or Omni Family Health at (661) 459-1900.

Click here for more information.

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La fecha límite de la inscripción abierta es el 31 de enero

Varias instalaciones de atención médica por todo el condado de Kern se están reuniendo para celebrar eventos de inscripción antes de la fecha límite del 31 de enero para ayudar a los residentes del área a navegar el proceso.

“Nos estamos reuniendo para brindar a los residentes de la comunidad la oportunidad de conocer sus opciones de cobertura de salud e inscribirse en un plan de salud calificado antes de que finalice la inscripción abierta”, dijo el director de operaciones de Clínica Sierra Vista, Bill Phelps.
Phelps agregó que el interés aumentó este año en comparación con el año pasado, pero aún no tiene cifras oficiales.

La comunidad está invitada a asistir al próximo evento de inscripción que se llevará a cabo el sábado, 27 de enero de 10 a.m. a 3 p.m. en el Valley Plaza Mall, entre Macy’s y JC Penney.

Para obtener más información, llame a Clínica Sierra Vista al (661) 328-4245 o a Omni Family Health al (661) 459-1900.

Haga click aquí para descargar el volante.

 

Photo above: Jack Becker (Program Manager at Bike Arvin and Bike Bakersfield), Alex Gonzalez (Organizer at Faith in Kern), Bill Phelps (Chief of Program Services at Clinica Sierra Vista) and Elizabeth Martinez (Healthy Policy Organizer at the Dolores Huerta Foundation)
 
Building Healthy Communities South Kern partners attended the inaugural Cross-Collaboration Breakfast on October 20, spending the morning identifying the places Action Teams can support each other and increase their reach.

In October, the California Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to enforce pesticide buffer zones statewide. Our partners say that while this is a great step forward there is still more work needed to protect our children.

The new regulations cover most school hours, but advocates say the rule doesn’t consider after school or weekend activities held at schools, or the fact that pesticide drift remains in school grounds and on top of classrooms long after spraying.

“We advocated for some stronger regulations because pesticide drift doesn’t stop after class is over. The rule to limit pesticide use near schools from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.window is an improvement, but still not good enough,” said Valerie Gorospe of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment and a member of Californian’s for Pesticide Reform. “We plan to keep pushing for more protections going forward, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Read more from South Kern Sol here: Long Awaited Rule Limiting Pesticide Use Near Schools.

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Committee for a Better Arvin, Comite Progreso de Lamont, and Center on Race Poverty and the Environment (CRPE) reached an agreement with Recology over the company’s new operation of Recology Blossom Valley Organics, a composting facility outside of Lamont.

“This agreement signifies a new beginning for the residents of Lamont and Arvin in terms public health and safety, and a partnership between Recology and the local community,” wrote CRPE in a press release.

The community agreement will ensure the operation is safe, protects public health, and also makes significant financial investments in the community.

“Recology has committed to installing an aeration system that will reduce pollution by at least 80 percent, this commitment was a driving factor for the community groups to enter into negotiations,” read the press release. “The goals of the agreement are to maintain an open line of communication with the nearby residents of Lamont, Weedpatch and Arvin, improve neighborhood safety and livability, and ensure a high quality of environmental standards are met.”

The history of relationships between economically disadvantaged communities and industrial corporations is often one of conflict. This win is an example of how corporations can work together with residents and why it’s important that corporations engage community residents into business processes.

We are proud to announce that Building Healthy Communities South Kern is sponsoring Bakersfield College’s Public Health Hackathon, an event that will bring together public health and science students to develop solutions to community health challenges. 
One of the challenges that will be poised to students is the need for a Building Healthy Communities South Kern application, so that partners can be connected and communicate in real time. 
The free event takes place March 17, 18, & 19 at Bakersfield College, 1801 Panorama Dr. in Bakersfield. Participants interested in collaborating can sign up for the hackathon at bcinnocates.com. For more information, please call Allyssa Haas at (661) 368-5482.

Building Healthy Communities South Kern, CSU Bakersfield’s Social Justice Center and the Kern Rural Teacher Residency will host best-selling author Jonathan Kozol as he leads future and current educators and advocates in a discussion about educational inequality and racial justice.

Kozol, in his latest book, ‘Savage Inequalities,” brings into question the reality of equal opportunity in the country’s public education system.

The free event takes place Saturday, March 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Cal State Bakersfield’s Dore Theatre, 9000 Stockdale Hwy. Free parking is available in Lots B and C. Please click here to register for the event.

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The newly constructed action park in DiGiorgio Park is almost complete and ready for area youth to enjoy. Please join us for the grand opening of Arvin’s newest youth attraction to be held at DiGiorgio Park in Arvin on Friday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m.

After months of advocating for a skate park, Arvin youth who participate in Bike Bakersfield’s Arvin bike kitchen, will soon see their dream become a reality.

Building youth leaders and creating safe places for youth is one of Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s priorities. And this park is an example of how community organizations can work together with local government to help build youth leadership.

Parks also help improve health outcomes. According to Kern County Network for Children’s 2016 Report Card, in Kern, “25.5 percent of 5th graders, 23.8 percent of 7th graders and 20.8 percent of 9th graders were in the high-risk category for body composition.”

The skate park was made possible thanks to a partnership between the City of Arvin, Bike Bakersfield, Tony Hawk Foundation, Mountain Side Disposal, and Building Healthy Communities South Kern.

BHC-SK applauds the City of Arvin for listening and wanting to engage youth in the design process. This partnership proves the rewarding results for a community when community groups work together with local government to create opportunities for young people.

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By Diana Cisneros

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Enrique Sanchez, 49, still remembers July 14, 2015. That was the date when laboratory tests confirmed what the trucker had: multiple myeloma.

It’s a cancer formed by plasma cells that have turned malignant. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system. Few cases of the disease are linked to risk factors that can be avoided, so there is no known way to prevent most multiple myelomas from developing.

The disease weakens the kidneys and bones. At the time of his diagnosis, Sanchez’s kidneys were functioning at 12 percent capacity. He developed a C-2 vertebral fracture because of which he couldn’t return to work, which resulted in an end to his employer-sponsored health benefits.

Sanchez’s life became a nightmare. He was jobless, had limited mobility and endless pain. Paying his medical bills and supporting his wife and three children, all of whom were in college, became very challenging.

As Sanchez transitioned into an unfamiliar world of medical jargon, he said he became scared. He feared what the future held for him.

Read more here.

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Kern County community leaders interested in learning about enhancing access to health in Kern are invited to attend Kern’s 2017 Call to Action Summit. To be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bakersfield on March 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on March 16 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Participants will have the opportunity to tour Arvin or McFarland and engage with various stakeholders and community leaders who are working to provide a safe and healthy environment for their residents.

To register for the event, please click here. For additional information call Tammy Fisher at (661) 321-3000.