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Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s Kern Education Justice Collaborative has launched a campaign to inform residents about the Local Control Funding Formula and encourage parents to give feedback on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The LCAP details the districts’ annual goals and details how funds will be spend to increase or improve services for students.

The KHSD has millions of dollars to use to help low-income students, foster youth and English Language Learners. Join us in telling the KHSD to stop focusing on guns and help our students graduate and get ready for their future.

Recently, the Kern High School District (KHSD) voted to allow teachers to carry handguns on campus, a vote in November that community members say was politics at its worst. The board held the meeting at unusual date and time, and chose to put their personal political agendas ahead of students’ needs.

For more information about this effort or to get involved, please call the KEJC at (661) 322-3033.

South Kern Sol, News Report, Marcus Castro

South Kern community members gathered at the #Agua4All rally to celebrate the installation of filters in certain locations throughout the South Kern that produce safe water, but also to discuss how that is just a start to fixing a larger problem.

The installation of 71 water stations and 88 point-of-use filters in the South Kern was the reason for celebration at the rally, which was held on April 5 at El Camino Real Elementary School in Arvin.

“It’s [filtration system installation] a big accomplishment, and we’re definitely here to celebrate because this is the largest project of its kind in all of the state,” said South Kern Community Programs Coordinator for the Community Water Center Jerry Tinoco as he spoke from the panel. The #Agua4all initiative is a project of The California Endowment and other groups including the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, the Community Water Center and Building Healthy Communities South Kern, which aims to increase access to safe drinking water.
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The panel of speakers at the rally consisted of Jerry Tinoco, Chief of Program Services for Clinica Sierra Vista Bill Phelps, Administrator of EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region Jared Blumenfeld, and Local Parent and Director of Maintenance, Operations, Transportation, Safety for Arvin Union School District Neftali Perez.

The new filtration systems is designed to use adsorption to remove contaminants from the water. The filters will be able to filter up to 960 gallons before having to be replaced, but there is currently work being done to create new filters that can filter more than 960 gallons before being replaced.

Blumenfeld explained that the filtration systems are cheap, therefore, they can be added in most places. He used the examples of the filters being added in locations such as schools, hospitals and homes.

The rally was a time for celebration, but it was also a time for realization as the speakers explained that the problem is not solved.

Tinoco said, “We’re not out of the woods quite yet. This is just an interim solution to a much larger problem.”

Tinoco explained that only a portion of the problem is fixed. He said now kids can go to school and have safe water to drink out of the water fountains, but he mentioned that when these kids go home, they drink water that is unsafe.

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According to California State Water Resources Control Board’s Annual Compliance Report, more than 1 million Californians do not have access to safe drinking water in their homes, schools or neighborhoods.

Water contamination is known to be associated with cancer, impaired development, diabetes and more.

“An exposure to unsafe water increased children and adults to risks that include learning disabilities and certain types of cancer,” said Phelps.

Phelps went on to say that it is critical for the community to have safe water as the human body needs water to function at a regular level.

Tinoco said that the community is small, and it is hard to get recognition from the state to move forward.

“Look at our community. It’s a small, farm working, low-income community. It’s pretty easy for lawmakers in Sacramento to forget about us,” said Tinoco.

Phelps mentioned that another problem is water isn’t affordable enough. He said that buying water in the communities where water is unsafe to drink shouldn’t be allowed to become a financial burden of families.

The main contaminant in the water is arsenic. Arsenic is a contaminant that naturally appears in rock and soil, but it also comes from fertilizers, pesticides, mining and more.

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The Maximum Contaminant Level for arsenic is 10 parts per billion. There are places in the South Kern that have nearly three times that amount in the water.

Arsenic is more likely to negatively affect children, infants and pregnant women.

People are exposed to arsenic not only through drinking it but through cooking with it as well.

Perez explained that in order to rid the water of arsenic and other contaminants, the community must work together.

Perez said, “I believe we can be successful as a community if we stay strong and united… I am committed to the goal, and I am committed to #Agua4All.”

Community Water Center, Rural Community Assistance Corporation and The California Endowment invite the community to celebrate the installation of over 70 water stations and point-of use filters in South Kern, which were installed as a temporary response to address the lack of clean drinking water in the area.

“The program will highlight the progress Arvin and Lamont have made to improve access to safe drinking water in our schools and neighborhoods and also remind our leaders that much more work remains to be done,” read a statement put out by Community Water Center today.

The community celebration and press conference will be held Tuesday, April 5 at 5 p.m. at El Camino Real Elementary School, 811 El Camino Real in Arvin.

To RSVP click hereCall Gerardo Tinoco at gerardo.tinoco@communitywatercenter.org or 661-345-9976 for more information.

The event is part of The California Endowment’s #Agua4All campaign.

 

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South Kern Sol, News Report, Randy Villegas, photos by Carla Bruno

This past weekend marked five years since the start of the Building Healthy Communities South Kern initiative. The occasion was marked by a celebration at Sunset Middle School in Weedpatch, where BHC South Kern members announced the adoption of the group’s action plan for 2016.

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The plan includes a focus on such things as improving education, health and the environment for residents across the county.

BHC South Kern Hub Manager Jennifer Wood-Slayton says members will “work to employ more restorative justice programs” in area schools, and to ensure that “students have access to healthy foods and physical activity.”

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Kern High School District has one of the highest suspension and expulsion rates in the state, with blacks and Latinos overwhelmingly represented. Supporters of restorative justice programs, which promote disciplinary alternatives, say the approach will help address these and other imbalances while also enhancing academic engagement.

The 2016 action plan also calls for a reduction in pesticide exposure among residents, as well as work to expand access to safe, drinkable water.

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“Pesticide use [and] ensuring that everyone has access to clean, safe drinkable water” will be priorities for BHC South Kern’s environment action team, says Wood-Slayton.

The anniversary also provided an occasion to celebrate some of BHC South Kern’s recent victories, including a decision by Arvin City Council to designate $400 thousand dollars for the construction of a new skatepark. Lamont residents will also be seeing new sidewalks, while students at Arvin High School will see increased access to Bakersfield College courses.

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The day’s festivities included games, food, prizes, raffles, and plenty of bouncy houses and activities for kids.

South Kern is one of 14 communities across the state targeted by The California Endowment to improve community health by addressing such things as high poverty and unemployment rates, as well as low education attainment.

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In South Kern, activities have focused largely around the areas of education, recreation, health access and the environment. Action teams made up of residents, school administrators, community groups, government agencies and businesses are formed around designated focus areas.

Gema Perez, 50, a mother of two says that BHC-SK has been instrumental in mobilizing residents to advocate for park improvements and encourage physical activity.

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“The changes we see at the park are motivating people to come out to the park,” says Perez.

Perez started the Greenfield Walking Group nine years ago and added that BHC-SK has opened many doors the group as well.

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Building Healthy Communities-South Kern (BHC-SK) will unveil the initiative’s 2016 community promises and recognize partners at this year’s Annual Celebration to be held Nov. 7, from 10am to 2 p.m., at Sunset School in Weedpatch.

BHC-SK sure has a lot to celebrate this year– the initiative secured nearly 2 million dollars for a project that will bring much needed sidewalks to Lamont. Come and learn about or other wins in the areas of education, environment, recreation, health access and education!

In South Kern, the community faces many struggles including poverty, unhealthy air, unemployment, and low educational attainment.  Residents, youth, businesses, and organizations are leading the BHC-SK effort to positively change the health of our communities through a shared vision, goals and action plan that guide our work. 

Enjoy a day full of fun interactive activities for those of every age, great prizes and free food!

Saturday, November 7, 2014

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunset School

8301 Sunset Blvd. Weedpatch

Let’s work together to make a bigger, more focused impact on the future of our communities and create a brighter future for our children.  Transportation will be available. For more information, call Marina at: (661) 845-2724.

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The Rose Foundation Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund is providing small grants ($5,000 or less) to community groups that are tackling tough environmental problems: water, toxic pollution, urban sprawl, climate change, environmental degradation. 

The grants are awarded every three months and the next application deadline is August 1.
Click here for additional information.

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Do you have a project that would benefit the communities of Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch, and the unincorporated areas of Greenfield, but need funds to purchase materials? If so we may be able to help. Apply for a grant today!

Grants to Build Healthy Communities

The Grants for Blocks Program will provide up to $500 in materials/supplies to groups of residents or youth from South Kern to complete projects that will improve our community.

What is Building Healthy Communities – South Kern?

Building Healthy Communities – South Kern is an effort to positively change the health of our communities through a shared vision, goals, and Action Plan. Residents, youth, businesses, and organizations in Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch and the unincorporated areas of Greenfield are working together to make our communities healthier, and to create a brighter future for our children.

Who can apply for Grants to Build Healthy Communities?

Applications can be made by any group of residents, youth, or community partners such as parent groups, groups of neighbors, youth or student groups, or others. Groups should be from the communities of Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch, or the unincorporated areas of Greenfield.

What can funds be used for?

Funds can be used for any project that would benefit the communities of Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch, and the unincorporated areas of Greenfield. Funds can only be used for materials or supplies and not to pay for services or the time it takes to complete the projects. Projects must be completed by November 30, 2015.

What factors will be used to decide which projects are funded?

Projects will be scored based on showing that they are:

  • Addressing a significant need in the communities of South Kern;
  • Meeting this need by making real and lasting improvements in our communities;
  • Led by residents or youth from South Kern;
  • Bringing different people and groups together, especially new groups or residents;
  • Using the $500 available for reasonable and pre-defined project expenses;
  • Bring additional resources beyond the $500 grant amount, such as additional funds or volunteer time;
  • Helping make our communities healthier places to live, work, and play;
  • Innovative or unique;
  • Supporting BHC-SK priorities (Education, Environment, Health, Recreation, and Economic Development).
  • How do I apply for funding?
  • Fill out and submit the application attached. If you need assistance completing the application, contact Angelica Munoz at 661-845-2724 for assistance.
  • Workshops will also be held in mid to late July to assist you in completing the application. To find out when a workshop near you will be held, visit our website, www.healthysouthkern.org, or call 845-2724.
  • Submit the application by 5:00pm on Friday, August 11th to 7839 Burgundy Avenue in Lamont. No late applications will be accepted.
  • We expect to fund $6500 in projects this year.
  • Funded applications will be limited to one per Group/Resident
  • Groups/Residents will be notified by August 31st if their application will be considered for funding.
  • Finalists will be asked to present to the BHC-SK Steering Committee on September 10th.
  • Funds must be spent by November 30th 2015
  • Workshops will also be held to assist you in completing the application.
      • July 21st 2015 5:30-6:30 @ FRC in Lamont 7839 Burgundy Ave Lamont CA 93241
      • July 24th 2015 5:30-6:30 @ Rexland Center 325 E. Fairview Ave Greenfield CA
      • July 27th 2015 5:30-6:30 @ Valley of Faith Church 500 Campus Ave, Arvin CA

For more details about the grant or application process, or for any other questions, visit our website, www.healthysouthkern.org or contact Marina Ugues, BHC-SK Program Assistant at the Lamont/Weedpatch Family Resource Center, 661-845-2724, 7839 Burgundy Avenue, Lamont.

Grants for blocks application application 2015

Spanish Grants for blocks application application 2015-SP

 

 

 

 

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In South Kern, a group of active and engaged youth have joined together to spread the word on issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.

South Kern Sol is media website staffed by youth ages 14 to 24 from the areas of Greenfield, Arvin, Lamont and Weedpatch. Together this team researches and reports on matters that impact residents of South Kern including the economy, education, politics, health and the environment.

Recognizing that the mainstream media often overlooks the areas they live in, these youth have been trained in the style of storytelling, photography and video to create a news outlet where citizens can find information on the local news that affects them most.

South Kern Sol was created by New America Media with the help of funders The California Endowment and Knight Foundation.

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