For this week’s edition of Vida en el Valle, I wrote a story about the García family of Pixley. (The story was produced with the support of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC’s Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism.)
When I first embarked on the story, I planned on writing about obesity among Latinos in the Valley. But instead of focusing on obesity – a topic that is often in the news nowadays – I ended up focusing on what one family, and one community, is doing to combat the regional obesity epidemic.
This is a story not about obesity, but about what one family has done to be healthy.
To report the story, I spent four consecutive days in Pixley – an unincorporated Tulare County community of about 2,500 – with Teresa García, her husband, Gilberto, and her four children.
I watched as Teresa prepared healthy mid-day meals for her family, and urged them to eat the fresh fruit she left on the table. I accompanied Teresa to her to her daughter’s folkloric dance performance, and visited her sons’ soccer practice. Sometimes, we sat at her kitchen table, or on a picnic bench in her yard, and talked about the importance of eating well, exercising, and getting a quality education.
This is what came clear to me over those four days: It’s not easy to be healthy in a place like Pixley. Though they live in the country’s second-most agriculturally productive county in the country, Pixley residents have limited access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables. There are also limited options for recreation.
But things are changing in Pixley, thanks to concerned parents like the Garcías. I was excited to see how community residents have joined together to create and support a community garden, local soccer teams, and a folkloric dance group. And it’s even more exciting to think that, when given the knowledge, tools, and support, people across the Valley could come together to improve the health of their children and communities.