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Health in my Hometown - Youth Photovoice Project

Health in my Hometown - Youth Photovoice Project

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Published by Andy Berndt

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Published by: Andy Berndt on Apr 21, 2011
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Photovoice is a tool that combines photography with grassroots social action. Participants are asked to represent their community or point of view by documenting their lives through photography, discussing the photos together, developing narratives to go with their photos, and conducting outreach or other action. The Health In My Hometown Photovoice project was conducted in 12 communities across Minnesota that are participating in the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). Through SHIP, these communities are actively making changes to their local areas with the goals of increasing physical activity, improving nutrition and reducing tobacco use. The photovoice project is funded by Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Table of Contents:
Intro Communities Red Lake Reservation Cannon Falls Grand Portage Minneapolis Ramsey County Dakota County Cottonwood-Jackson-Redwood-Renville Laporte Mankato Rice County Rochester Todd County 14 18 22 28 34 40 46 52 58 64 68 72 4



Photovoice is a method that enables people to define for themselves and others what is worth remembering and what needs to be changed. -Caroline Wang

Communities have a big influence on our health. While it is up to each of us to eat good food, get physical activity and not smoke, the choices available—safe crosswalks, maintained parks and healthy school lunches—are often out of our hands. We all have a responsibility to take care of our communities, and to work for the health of everyone—especially our youth. That’s why across Minnesota people are working hard to encourage community gardens and farmers markets, to build bike paths and safe places to walk, to make it safer to walk or bike to school and to bring nutritious foods from the farm to the school. Together we are working to make the healthy choice the easy choice. This Photovoice project is an opportunity to see communities as our youth see them. We gave teams of youth volunteers cameras and asked: What makes your community healthy? We received a wide range of answers—some challenging, many encouraging and some surprising. All of them reflect the real world in which they live, work, learn and play. We hope that by looking at our community through their eyes, we can spur community dialogue about what we can do to make it easier to be healthy, especially for our young people. Pat Adams, MPH, BAN, RN Director, MDH Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives



With the MDH Photovoice project over 65 youth from SHIP communities across Minnesota were asked,

What makes your community healthy?
To answer this question participants were armed with cameras and took to the streets to view their everyday surroundings in a new light. They were asked to become photojournalists and tell the story of living healthy in their community.

They began looking around and discovering
6 7

What helps someone
eat healthy, be physically active and live a healthy lifestyle.



Why kids play at some parks…

and not others...



…and what our communities can do to help



Red Lake Tribal Reservation
Youth Participants: Charli Schocker, Katarina Mondragon, Tammi Beaulieu, Faleisha Desjarlait, Amy Benais Adult Leaders: Susan Ninham, Becky WierSchke, Rose Eileen

Unsafe Places for Physical Activity
Most of the parks in Red Lake are unsafe for children to play on. They are overgrown, broken and full of graffiti. It’s difficult for kids to be physically active if they don’t have space to play. - Feleisha Desjarlait This picture sends the message to youth that, “we don’t care if you have a safe place.” Susan Ninham, SHIP Leader The next plans for Red Lake SHIP are to address the need for safe spaces for physical activity on the reservation. In addition to fixing up the parks, SHIP is helping to create a paved walking path near the park and school.



Access to Healthy Food
Healthy food is difficult to get in Red Lake. We only have one market and the little they have is poor quality and expensive. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity and many other illnesses are HUGE problems in our community and we need healthy food to be accessible in order to solve them. -Rose Eileen To address this issue, Red Lake SHIP interventions have focused on strengthening food production within the reservation and increasing access to local produce. This past year SHIP supported two community youth gardens and organized Red Lake’s first farmers market. Additionally, cooking demonstrations were conducted at the Job Training Center as part of Worksite Wellness. Attendees were taught how to prepare healthy meals with affordable ingredients that can be found locally.



Cannon Falls
Youth Participants: Kyler Banks, Bjorn Pearson, Emma Thomley, Emily Jacobson, Rachel Benson Lily French Adult Leaders: Megan Drake-Pereyra

Canoeing the Cannon River

Canoeing is a popular activity in my community. The river is a great community resource. It is open to public use and is a beautiful place to get exercise and have lots of fun as a family. - Bjorn



Shop Local

The market is a way to get people together, to eat healthy and support local growers. If people buy healthy food and support locals, they and the sellers will profit. Your purchase will give you food that will make your body strong while helping the community be strong at the same time. - Lily

Everybody Bikes!

These are my sister’s and her friend’s bikes outside my house. This shows how everyone my age bikes and it is an important source of exercise for us. - Emma

Barriers to Biking to School

Anybody can exercise

This photo shows the lack of bike racks at school. Since there isn’t a safe place to put your bike many people won’t ride their bikes - why risk getting it stolen? - Bjorn

This lady walks every day up and down the sidewalk in front of her house. I wanted to share this photo because it shows two important things: first, safe sidewalks are important to a lot of people ability to be physically active and second, that every person can commit to staying healthy. If she can do it anyone can! - Emily



Grand Portage
Youth Participants: Gracie Christenson, Kyler Dechante, Shianna Lien, Chace Gengler Adult Leaders: April McCormick

Finding your food
This is a picture of the wild blueberries that grow in our community. Oh my gosh, they are so good you would be amazed. Anyone can pick them when they are in the woods. They are free, delicious and filled with nutrients. - Chace



Eating healthy gives you more energy to play. -Gracy

This is a picture of the best day ever. I got to get dirty and eat vegetables. -Kyler


This is our community garden in Grand Portage. Anyone can get a plot to grow food in it. People grow lots of stuff like: corn, beets, squash, onion, radish, tomatoes. -Kyler 25

Rendezvous Days Pow-Wow
The annual Rendezvous is celebrated in Grand Portage during the second weekend of August. The event is held in conjunction with the Rendezvous Days Pow-Wow, sponsored by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The annual gathering is the biggest and most grand celebration of the year, a time when Grand Portage comes alive and reflects on its rich heritage. -Chace

Wild rice is a traditional food because it comes from the creator and it helps you eat healthier. You will 26 have a good life. -Chace

We need sidewalks in Grand Portage. Kids walk and bike on the same road as cars. This picture shows how close cars can get to bikers. -Kyler


Youth Participants: Alysha, Kaalid, Kayla, Mary, MJ, Omar, Arthur Adult Leaders: Alyssa Banks, Alison Moore

Safe Places for Kids to Play

This picture show a young girl looking up to her home in Cedar Riverside from the park below. F-building’s park is right next to her home and many children come here to play. Parents are barely ever with them because they know it’s a safe place that for some if they look out the window they can see that their children are safe. - Mary



Traveling in the City
While living in the city, you’re always moving around and going places. Downtown is easily accessible by way of light-rail, bus or biking. Sometimes though these things can be damaged and make it harder for people who want to use them. - Mary

This picture is from a ‘rally for peace’ community event that was in North Minneapolis. The child in the picture wishes for peace for his own neighborhood. - MJ

Young kids learning the importance of physical activity. Hard work pays off...mentally and physically. - Alysha

Cedar Riverside Youth Council and Brian Coyle Center collaborated to create three murals in Cedar Riverside. This mural stands for the peace, prosperity and multiculturalism that are part of CR. This picture shows my hope in what my community will become. 30 - MJ 31

This is by Matthews Park. It is a locally grown community garden. You can grow and buy vegetables and fruits. - Kaalid

Little Earth Community Garden - Arthur and Kayla


This is my 7-year-old brother. He is having a difficult time going down the slide located by my building. Many kids get their exercise by playing at the park and going down the slide. In his case, he is not having fun because the slide is too hot and is too small for even a 7-year-old to fit. -Kaalid


Ramsey County
Youth Participants: Melissa Amparan, Marianne Mugambi, Sannia Elzia, Sheng Vue, Pa Chia Vue Michelle Paura Amparan Adult Leaders: Laurie Burns, Marijo Wunderlic, Juliet Mitchel, Jamie Anderson

Getting fresh produce to the community

Every Saturday morning we have a market stand from 9 to noon. It’s located on the corner of 7th Street next to the Swede Hollow Café. We sell our fresh organic produce to the community. It’s a great way for us to communicate with the people in our neighborhood. -Sheng and Pa Chia Vue



Gardening 101

We work at the Community Design Center of Minnesota as youth interns in the Garden and Nutrition Corps. In Garden Corps we tend and maintain seven organic gardens on the East Side of St. Paul. In Nutrition Corps we prepare healthy recipes using the produce we grow in our gardens. We also share our produce with the community and our families. - Sheng and Pa Chia Vue

Active St. Paul

On Summit Avenue in St. Paul, bikers have easy access to staying physically active on the paved bike path. They can experience a beautiful and safe neighborhood. - Sannia Elzia



Open, green spaces free of graffiti and debris invite children to play and be active. - Marianne

Unclean Parks
This was suppose to be a clean environment for the neighborhood to enjoy. It’s remodeled, but the trash and filth is not inviting. - Sannia Elzia In this picture, the youth interns are building fences to protect the vegetables in the garden from animals, for example, turkey, deer and rabbits. - Sheng and Pa Chia Vue 39


Dakota County
Youth Participants: Tommy Hayes, Mariah Gieger, Mike Post, April Valetea Adult Leaders: Mary Montagne, Shannon Bailey

Where the walking trails end

Farmington has many great walking paths. However, this path ends before it gets to my school, making the commute nearly impossible and very dangerous without a car. It would be great if the path continued. - Mariah



Fresh and Local

There is a local farmers market in my neighborhood every Friday. It is a great way for my family to get fresh produce for a great price. This photo shows the variety of vegetables available, and my mom, who uses the produce to make healthy meals at home. - April

Healthy and Unhealthy Vending

The vending machines are a popular spot for students to stop, especially after school for a snack. This is important to me and my community because there are healthier choices students can be making. The only competition for the vending machines is the Tiger Snack Shack that is open almost all day. Despite a recent overhaul of the Snack Shack food options, the unhealthiest choices are still the most popular. - Mariah



Dangerous Crosswalks

I staged this photo with a couple of my friends to demonstrate the serious problem of traffic safety on Delaware Avenue. Often times while traveling on this road a biker will just pop out of nowhere and ride right in front of your car. This problem could be fixed if there was a proper bike/walk path along the road instead of just a shoulder. Also, there are no pedestrian crossing signs anywhere on the road. To improve safety, the city should add signs telling pedestrians where it is safe to cross.

No Sidewalks

Students desperately need sidewalks on the road by my high school. Students walk up and down the busy road, illegally crossing the street because there is no other alternative. The pavement is torn up on the edges and not in good shape. Students need sidewalks or at the very least a crosswalk. - Tommy


- Mike


Youth Participants: Ellen Munshower, Jamie Symens, Aluxis Ingebrigtean, Natalie Schlanger, Jenna Peterson Adult Leaders: Bonnie Fredrickson

Fall Fun

This is my sister at our local apple orchard. Apple orchards are great because they encourage healthy eating, local foods and physical activity. -Aluxis



Improving School Lunch
A not to so healthy lunch. - Ellen

Parks are a great way for kids to get outside and play! When I was little I would always go to parks and have fun. - Jamie

But the new Farm to School program will bring in food straight from local farmers. - Aluxis

Some trails in our area are in terrible disrepair. People would walk more if the sidewalks weren’t crumbling. - Natalie 48 49

I love the Farm to School program in our school! - Jenna Equal Access
‘I Dig My Farmer’ Farm to School promotional program is an initiative of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Anyone from the community can use the weight room at our school. It is important to have these places where people can come work out. - Jenna



Youth Participants: Alli, Chase, Corrina, Biancha Adult Leaders: Raeann Mayer, Sara Bowles

Safe Places for Kids to Play Rock Sober is a youth group that encourages substance free choices and activities. - Biancha



This is a garden that Rock Sober started growing in the spring. It has brought fresh vegetables to our local grocery store. We had help from strong community members and the garden is doing awesome. - Biancha

4-H is an active way of living and learning. You do projects on gardening, sewing, community projects and horse showing and games. And you learn a lot of different things. - Biancha



The Paul Bunyan biking trail. Working to put new biking and walking trails through Laporte. - Chase & Alli

No Sidewalks

The route for the community to walk or ride from the downtown area or bike trail to the school, which serves as the center for many community activities. - Alli 56 57

Youth Participants: John Powers, Samantha Kenny, Jen Lang Adult Leaders: Bonnie Frisk

A boy engaging in physical activity called slacklining. This shows there are other ways of staying fit and active while at the same time having fun rather than your typical running, weightlifting or going to the gym. This picture encourages people in the community to try new activities to stay healthy.



Two girls are walking a dog at our local Humane Society. This shows you can do good for your community while exercising at the same time.

To be able to still smoke this smoker had to prepare for the rain, this caused her to smoke by the doors. Some of the doors on campus are required to be at least 15 feet away. If there is bad weather many smokers choose to ignore this rule.



A girl is being personal trained at the weight room. If you need assistance or motivation to work out, it is available to you right in your community.

This photo shows a row of fresh vegetables ready for purchase for customers. This shows there are options for healthy food choices located in Mankato. This photo tells us there are healthy options nearby at a convenient location for an affordable price. Healthy food choices are realistic and available in Mankato. This relates to Mankato community members in that there are healthy options for cooking meals or snacks if we take the time to look for it.



Rice County
Youth Participants: Kayla Bahr, Gisel Salinas, Nathan Little, Basra Osman, Sammi Krukauski Adult Participants: Mary Kleingarn, Carolyn Treadway, Natalie Ginter

Neighborhood Night Out I took this picture because it shows how much people appreciate community activities on a warm summer day. Softball and other sports not only keep the players physically active, it also and brings community member together to be outside, socialize with neighbors and enjoy the park. -Nathan Little



Faribault Youth Gardening Project
The SHIP mini grant funded youth gardening project at SHAC (So How are the Children) teaches Faribault youth the importance of healthy eating through gardening and food preparation. - Gisel

Unappealing Parks
While looking at this picture, I can count on one hand how many things there are to play. It isn’t very appealing to me and is most likely not to a child either. Therefore, if the children of Dennison are not going to be playing at the park, it is very likely that they will just be sitting inside playing Xboxs or Playstations or watching television. That is why the City Council should remodel the Dennison park to get kids to be more active and healthy. - Kayla Bahr 66

Mondays In The Park is a service provided in Rice County during the summer months. Mondays provide fun and friendship for local Somali women and families. Children have the opportunity to participate in organized outdoor activities while women engage in ESL conversational practice with English-speaking women from the community. - Nathan Little 67

Youth Participants: Maurice Lowery, Kasey Cook, Chris Dunner, Brandon Wilkes, Eli Erath Adult Participants: Jo Anne Judge-Dietz, Beth Rojas

A little About Golden Hills School…

Golden Hills is an alternative learning center within the Rochester Public School district. The mission of Golden Hills is to support viable educational options for students who are experiencing difficulty in the traditional system and are at risk of educational failure. Golden Hills has found a way to bring science to life by starting an urban farm on campus. With student volunteers who work through the summer they produced a large variety of crops including sunflowers, corn, tomatoes, lettuce and huge pumpkins! The vegetables were shared among volunteers but future plans include selling the produce at the farmers market. The garden and farming activities are being integrated into the curriculum and this fall they added a fish-farming operation. -Eli



We grow sunflowers in our school garden. Sunflower seeds are a wonderful, low-cost snack that is easy to grow. Sunflowers also provide us with a large supply of bird seed for our school bird feeders. -Kasey

Chickens at School

I think it is really cool that our school has chickens. Chickens provide us with eggs and a good meat supply. We allow our chickens to roam free during the day to graze and sleep in the sun. People say a happy cow gives good milk, so why shouldn’t a happy chicken give good eggs? - Kasey

At Golden Hill we got to work with a beekeeper. This picture is us smoking and brushing off the bees. This shows that we were not hurting the bees to get honey. -Maurice



Todd County
Youth Participants: Abbey Minke & Brooklyn Levin Adult Coordinator: Katherine Mackedanza

Let’s Grow Healthy!
The garden is a place where people from the community can grow fresh fruits and veggies. There is even a wheelchair accessible ramp to the gardens! - Brooklyn



Access to Healthy Food

Cenex is the closest convenience store near the high school. Most of the cheap food there is unhealthy, but it is the only place to buy food unless you want to drive all the way across town. - Abby

Safe Places for Kids to Play

This is a safe place for little kids to play. They can have fun and “work out” at the same time. -Brooklyn



Thank you From Bill Burleson:
The Minnesota Department of Health would like to thank the people who made this Photovoice project a reality. Thanks to the hard-working Statewide Health Improvement Program staff who supported Photovoice in their communities across the state. Thanks to the tribal and county officials who supported this effort and continue to do courageous, steadfast work on behalf of their communities. And, most of all, thanks to the youth who spent their summer looking at their community and how it affects their health. They live these pictures every day, and by sharing their photos they have taken an active role in making their community better for everyone. William Burleson, Physical Activity and Nutrition Communications Coordinator, Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives


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