Over the summer, I went to sleepaway camp in Pennsylvania for three weeks, and I’ve been going since I was ten years old. During the session I attended this year, there was a day of service. On this day, we got to individually choose an activity that would benefit either the camp community or people outside of the camp. As my contribution, I scrubbed and re-painted the main office because the paint was chipped and falling off. I felt that after all my camp had done for me throughout the past 6 years, I should do something for them in return. I have been extremely appreciative of the opportunities my camp has provided me, and giving back was a rewarding experience that I would be happy to repeat.
This summer I travelled with the boys soccer team to the Trinidad and Tobago. During our week long stay, we trained several times, and played multiple exhibition matches against local teams. Aside from developing our soccer skills, we also had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the rich culture of Trinidad and Tobago. We explored the island by boat one day, and then by going for an incredible scenic drive another. The team partipicated in multiple clinics where we helped lead training sessions for youth players. After the clinics were complete, we then distributed cleats to the players who had partaken in the session. Being able to interact with soccer players with completely different backgrounds from myself was a very special experience. It was a move to come together with people from a completely different place, and bond over a sport which we all love.
The week following the soccer preseason training camp, the Boy’s Varsity team traveled to Tobago, which served as an extremely fulfilling bonding and service experience. It was fantastic to be able to experience Warren and Sherwin’s home. Through 3 exhibition matches, down time, volunteer clinics, and practices everyone really got to know each other. We ran two clinics at our coach’s old high school and at their former soccer academy. Not only did we run clinics and distribute cleats, but we also got to immerse ourselves in the culture. The people we met were incredibly hospitable and it would be lovely to return there. This experience helped me understand the extent of the privilege I experience here at Friends and in my life in general.
After exploring the Community Health Survey, our group identified the Bronx as the New York City borough with statistically significant lower consumption of fruits and vegetables than other boroughs. An analysis of the data of the Community Health Survey, indicated that the Bronx, when compared with the other boroughs, contained one of the highest percentages of residents who consumed zero servings of fruits and vegetables per day. On average, the results of the Community Health Survey revealed that 12.2% of the population of New York City consumed no servings of fruits and vegetables per day, 77.7% consumed one to four servings, and 10.1% consumed five or more servings. In Kingsbridge, an area in central Bronx, 17.7% of the population consumed no servings of fruits and vegetables regularly, a percentage far above the City’s average. This statistic is particularly concerning given the small quantity of fruits and vegetables that qualify as one serving. According to the Community Health Survey, one medium apple, a handful of broccoli, or a cup of carrots equal one serving of fruits and vegetable.
There is a startling disparity in the consumption of fruits and vegetables between Kingsbridge and other higher income areas in the City. When you compare Kingsbridge with my neighborhood of Park Slope, the statistics reveal a divide of 13% between the neighborhoods reports of residents consuming no servings of fruits and vegetables. In Park Slope, only 3.8% of the population reported they consume no servings of fruits and vegetables per day compared with 17.7% in Kingsbridge. Our group believed that the disparity of reported consumption of fruits and vegetables might be linked to the high costs and limited access to fruits and vegetables in low income areas. When compared with the high income area of Park Slope, Kingsbridge has a higher availability of fast food options which are less expensive than the cost of fruits and vegetables.
Access to reasonably priced fruits and vegetables is a critical component of consumer consumption. One explanation for the Bronx’s conspicuously low consumption of fruits and vegetables is that the residents of the Bronx lack access to grocery stores and markets where they can purchase fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. The Bronx also has a disproportionately high number of fast food restaurants in comparison with other boroughs. Fast food chains tend to offer highly processed foods at low prices, appealing to low-income families. These fast food chains typically offer limited to no servings of vegetable and fruit in their dishes.
In order to combat the limited availability of healthy eating options in the Bronx, my group proposed to open the Kingsbridge Food Coop, a community oriented grocery store offering healthy foods at reasonable prices. We believe that a Coop would not only provide residents in the Bronx with access to healthy eating options, but could provide community health and wellness programs that foster healthy eating. With $30,000 of our budget designated to community organized events, one of the goals of the coop is to educate members on nutrition and health. The coop hopes to host events seasonally that teach members the importance of healthy eating and a balanced diet. Food demonstrations with samplings coupled with discussion based conversations with the coop’s nutritionist, will inform the members of the community of the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption, stressing the positive correlation between a balanced diet and disease prevention. Our hope is that members will learn not only the nutritional benefits of eating fruits and vegetables but also how to cook and enjoy a range of healthful foods. Our hope is that these healthier choices of foods would lead to other healthy lifestyle choices.
Working with my group on our grant proposal, has deepened my commitment to issues of equitable access to healthy foods. Exploring the situation in Kingsbridge has motivated me to think about the role I can have in minimizing this gap. This issue of access to healthy foods has been on my mind since last year, when we had several conversations in biology class about the food deserts in low income neighborhoods on New York. I am particularly fascinated by the science of healthy eating. When I learned about the role of macromolecules in biology class, I began to understand the biological makeup of food and the specific health benefits that are associated with a balanced diet. I was hooked by the idea that the food we choose to put into our bodies impacts the way our bodies feel and respond to stimulus. As a result, I have encouraged myself to eat a more balanced diet, focusing on whole, real food ingredients, and encouraged my family to cook more meals at home. This project was the next step in helping me apply these biological principles beyond my own life to a larger population within an area experiencing food inequity.
Asking people to make lifestyle changes is hard and routines can be difficult to break. The Kingsbridge Food Coop would have to spend significant amounts of time and resources to gain members and create significant lifestyle changes. I believe, though, that once the initial group of members sign-up and experience the benefits of both access to fresh foods and the supportive community within the coop, the place will take off. Overtime, I imagine the coop will be a source of light and inspiration in lives of its members and beyond. While there will always be some holdouts, my hope is that fruit and vegetable consumption rises to the level of neighborhoods such as Park Slope and that income and access no longer deter healthy eating.
The Sunday following pre-season soccer camp, the Boys Varsity soccer team went on a week long trip to Tobago, home nation to Coach Warren Salandy and former Coach Sherwin O’Neil. We stayed at the famed Coco Reef hotel. This beautiful resort consisted of a warm, biologically-rich beach where we would spend much of our free time in, whether it be swimming, chilling, or snorkeling. Snorkeling was remarkable, as I was able to see a wide variety of species of fish as well as the occasional squid.
We trained at a couple of different fields, each not more than a 20 minute drive from the hotel. One thing that struck me was the intense humidity, an environment I was not used to.
The biggest takeaway experience from this trip was doing the clinic with the kids of Tobago. We had two clinics, one with Warren and Sherwin’s old soccer academy and the other with the school they went to. It was very fun working with these kids, who were passionate to get better, and run drills with them that we ran at our own practices. It was fun to see the smile on their faces at the end of the clinics, when they picked out a pair of cleats out of the vast collection we had gathered back home and brought to Tobago.
Overall, it was a very fun experience. As a sophomore, I would be ecstatic to repeat this trip next summer.
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to help make quilts that would be sent to victims of the Pulse shooting in early June. Everyday my friend and I would meet up for a couple hours to make the quilts. My main task was cutting out squares of fabric but on the final day I got to sew together the squares I had cut. I don’t consider myself an artistic person but it was actually really fun.
As soon as I heard the news about what had happened in Orlando, I was devastated and I also felt really helpless because there was nothing that I could do as a sixteen year old from New York. It felt really nice to know that I was able to do something with regards to what happened and I hope that the quilts were able to make someone’s day a bit better.
The end result!
During the last week of August the mens varsity soccer team were lucky enough to travel to Tobago. This trip held meaning for us because we were traveling to our coaches hometown (Warren Salandy and Sherwin O’Neill). We played local teams and did many different activities on the island, like snorkeling and cliff jumping. As well as having fun and playing games we brought soccer equipment to the island for coaches, players and teams. During some of the days on the island we ran clinics for schools and club teams on the island. At the end we would donate some of the equipment. Seeing what we could do and what impact we could make made me very joyful. By the end of the trip most of the island knew who we were. Our captain went to a TV station to conduct an interview with our coaches and David Lieber. Overall this experience was very fulfilling to what the Friends community stands for.
Nonprofit – Kleats For Kids
This summer I spent four weeks at the UU-UNO (Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office) as their interim Climate Change Initiative intern. I worked on updating and completing a Unitarian Universalist religious education curriculum on climate change, and on writing congregational action plans for education and service toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. I think that through working on these projects, I helped to educate myself about climate change, the politics and ethics around it, and how it can affect all of the world’s peoples. By working on the congregational action plans, I got a better understanding of how the SDGs were chosen and passed and what they entail. Overall, I think I learned a lot from this experience and will use this new knowledge about climate change in my life going forward.
Over the summer I worked closely with the Center for Architecture firm and the children’s program it provided. I spent around three weeks co-teaching architectural classes to children ranging from ages 8 to 12. I taught them about various types of bridges, the design of neighborhoods, and the key facts about skyscrapers. Throughout each week long session, each kid built their own model pertaining to the material we were learning. The program also included outdoor trips to Central Park and famous/ historic sites around the Village. I would definitely consider doing it again next year!
This summer, I was part of the Boys Varsity Soccer Team’s trip to Tobago. The trip was a bonding experience at heart, doing so while traveling the island, playing local soccer teams, and engaging in meaningful service. The service we did on the trip was through Kleats for Kids, an organization that I lead. My organization delivers soccer equipment, primarily cleats, to underprivileged children across the world. For this trip, I helped facilitate the gathering of over 100 pairs of cleats, which we carried with us to Tobago. Once there, we led a few clinics for local children, one for kids from the former high school of our coaches and the other for kids from their former soccer academy. After each clinic, we distributed the cleats, along with other gear like jerseys, shinguards, and goalie gloves. Seeing the joy and appreciation on the faces of the young kids was highly fulfilling. Overall, the trip was an incredible experience, made much more special by this great service that we partook in.