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HEAC 2008 Youth - Old



I was born in Mexico but raised in South L.A. I'm 18 years old and attended The Accelerated School’s Wallis Annenberg High School. When I first heard about HEAC I wasn't really interested, but gave it a try to fulfill community service hours. I became aware of a lot of things that I had never thought of before, like the lack of fresh food in my community and the abundance of fast food restaurants. I’ve been in HEAC for about 3 years. One of the main reasons I'm in HEAC is because I want to learn how to get healthy and stay healthy! I also want to help my little brother and my other siblings. I want to make my community better. It’s really depressing seeing fast food restaurants everywhere. I want to make a difference now when I'm young so that when I have my own family, my children will have better food options than I did.


I joined HEAC with the mentality that I would get my required volunteer hours and quit, but after a few group meetings, I started to take an interest in my health and the health of those in my community. My name is Jonathan Contreras and I have lived in South Los Angeles all of my life. I attend Wallis Annenberg High School. When I complete high school I will to attend college and eventually travel to foreign countries, doing volunteer work. Working with HEAC has been an excellent experience that has taught me so much more than how to eat healthy. It has also opened my eyes to issues that I otherwise would not have given a second thought. Through the program I’ve gained countless friends and experience that will always be of benefit to me.


Born, raised and living in South Central Los Angeles dreaming big is almost taboo. My name is Britanni Marie Dighero and I am an idealist. As a child my time was spent dreaming, writing, lying, and more often than not, getting away with it. I continue dreaming, and have a great desire to write and act. This desire has influenced me to put myself in the shoes of others, and HEAC has allowed me to help those in need, including myself. I was very naïve of the fact that my eating habits, and those of others was so poor, and that South Los Angeles is a food desert. On a personal level HEAC means to me an initiative to express myself and help others, but in all really impact and help myself and community grow. I also work with Youth Activism Against Obesity (YAAO), creating a social networking site called that focuses on health, activity, and policy advocacy. I’ve recently been appointed as the youth board member for the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness. Next year I’ll be attending a local community college and pursuing her interest in advocacy and acting.


As a recent graduate of The Accelerated School, born and raised in South Los Angeles, the Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) program at my school, The Accelerated School, has given me the chance to change myself and my community. I was originally encouraged by my fellow peers to join HEAC but soon after I joined I realized that HEAC was something that could help me make a change not just in my community but one day over the world. The work I have done in HEAC has given me a new perspective on solving community problems and getting an idea out there to be recognized. I have also realized that one can make a difference if you try. In the near future I would like to continue with HEAC but also go to college and major in journalism. I would like to work with the media and help communities like mine get their ideas out there. As of August 2009, I will be working with the La Salud Tiene Sabor, Mercado La Paloma Evaluation Advisory Committee.


HEAC Youth Ambassadors Portraits



My name is Cameron McCaa and I was born July 28, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. I attend City Honors High in Inglewood, California where I stand as a twelfth grader. I participate in Health Eating Active Communities and it is my aspiration to become a future philanthropist. My motive as a youth ambassador is to make a difference in the lives of the impoverished and uplift the lives of the unhealthy. By participating in Healthy Eating Active Communities I am prepared to assist anyone who is susceptible to any health dilemmas and HEAC helps those who are ill by proceeding in market conversions and informational sessions available to Los Angelinos in South Los Angeles.

Cameron's Take on the South LA Food Desert



My name is Adriana Moreno and I am 17 years old. I attend Wallis Annenberg High School in South Los Angeles. I joined Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) because I realized that without a healthy life you cannot enjoy the world you live in. This program has helped me and others reflect on their eating habits and relate it to their everyday life. The store conversion project has helped students in our community make better healthier food choices. This project has been exciting and challenging, but at the end everything pays off because you see all the great things you have accomplished for the community. I would to see more corner store conversions in the future so that other communities can benefit from it as well. I hope to major in psychology, specifically child development so I can help children with eating disorders and problems in their everyday life.


My name is Josue Moreno. I am 15 years old. I was born in Los Angeles California and I am now attending Woodrow Wilson high. My future goals are to graduate from high school and get a MBA degree in law at Harvard or Yale University. I joined H.E.A.C. because I thought/think that this experience will help the community and me to succeed in the future, and also because I don’t want The United States to be the "fattest" or most "obese state in all the world. This experience gives me great happiness to know that there are people from LA to NY that are trying to make this a better place to live.


My name is Jessica Michelle Orellana and I am 16 years old. I was born in East Los Angeles but moved to South Los Angeles when I was 2 years old. I currently attend Wallis Annenberg High School at The Accelerated School. My mother is from Honduras and my father is from El Salvador. I live in a community composed mainly of African Americans and Hispanics. Most people in this community believe what their thoughts do not matter and for the most part we do not have many options. I join Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) because what I thought mattered. I have a voice that needs to be heard by my classmates, my community and the rest of the world. I can and will make a difference. This experience has meant a lot to me because for the first time I feel empowered despite of where I live. While I am unsure of what I want to do in the future, I know it will incorporate this experience along with my strong interest in geography.


HEAC 2007 Youth Ambassadors at work



I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I joined HEAC when it was first introduced to T.A.S when I was a sophomore/junior, and have been a part of it ever since. One of the main reasons that I joined HEAC was because i have a cousin who is obese and suffers from seizures and I wanted to take part in making our community healthier and more beautiful. I worked on different projects just as a picture diary of my neighborhood, and working on the video projects. HEAC has opened new opportunities for youth from my community to get involved and make a difference that will eventually have a positive impact on our community. Currently I am a second year at UC Davis, working on a Woman's studies and sociology with an emphasis in law double major. I hope to one day be able to give back to my community, and help change the negative image that is attached to it.


My name is Shonette Reed and I attend Community Harvest Charter School. I am a junior in High School and I joined HEAC the summer of my eighth grade year. I joined HEAC because I felt like we could make a difference if we all put our minds to it. It is not something that would happen over night it is something that takes time and commitment while having fun at the same time. The work on the corner store and making the documentary was a lot of fun while at the same time you realized that you were not only working on your eating habits but helping others as well. Without a shadow of a doubt that meant a lot to me and I know it will reap great benefits. In the future I will continue to work on my eating habits and help my family and others to work on theirs as well as exercising. I am thankful to have met all of those involved with HEAC and love to work with them.


I am 18 years old. I graduated from The Accelerated School’s Wallis Annenberg High School and live in South Central L.A. I was in HEAC for about a year and a half and loved that I could share passionate opinions on healthy eating with other students my age. I was in HEAC because I believe that there is a serious issue with eating healthy and the question of “What IS healthy?” My experience has been that so many people in my community don’t know HOW to eat healthy. How can they change if they don’t know how? Some people THINK they are changing their diet and eating healthy foods, but many foods are loaded with hidden unhealthy fats and sugars. HEAC is very important because it focuses on helping the community. The community is where a change has to start.


I am 16 years old and used to attend The Accelerated School’s Wallis Annenberg High School. I live in South Central L.A. I was in HEAC for about a year and a half because I want to help change the health and food in my community as well as in my family. HEAC allowed me to get my point across about health in my community.


My name is Andrea Vazquez and I'm a sophomore at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and am majoring in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics (MIMG). Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by how the body works. This interest combined with my desire to help my community, inspired me to a HEAC Youth Ambassador. HEAC gave me the opportunity to make change in South LA while learning and having fun. Now, my goal is to be a doctor and come back to my neighborhood to make even more changes.

Andrea's Take on the South LA Food Desert


SHARLENE GOZALIANS, South Los Angeles HEAC Youth Coordinator

There is nothing more rewarding than working with youth who have just discovered the power they hold in their hands and in their voices, regardless of where they may live. My name is Sharlene Gozalians and I am the Youth Coordinator for South Los Angeles Healthy Eating Active Communities. Throughout my days, I work directly with youth in South Los Angeles helping and guiding them focus their passion for empowerment and advocacy towards the lack of food access issues in the community.  Each one of these youth is already a leader in their community, getting ready to take on the world, one passionate cause at a time.


HEAC 2008 Youth Ambassadors at work