By Aunnalea Grove, Get HYPE Philly! Program Manager, The Food Trust
For the Get HYPE Philly! initiative, 10 nonprofit partners, led by The Food Trust, have come together to empower 1,000 youth leaders to improve the health of their schools and communities with a goal of reaching over 50,000 Philadelphia youth in 100 schools by January 2018. Through urban agriculture, physical fitness, nutrition education and work readiness, Get HYPE Philly! is helping to ensure that Philadelphia’s young people play a key role in building healthier communities and creating a healthier generation. This has created a true movement, with young people at the forefront as agents for healthy change in their communities.
Many of Get HYPE Philly!’s youth leaders are actively involved in improving access to local, fresh foods in their schools and communities. Students involved in the school wellness clubs known as HYPE (Healthy You. Positive Energy.) have the opportunity to visit local farms, start school gardens and advocate for healthy food sales in their schools. Youth leaders also support farm to school efforts by encouraging their peers to try local foods through marketing and taste tests in their schools. As one student said, “I joined HYPE because I wanted to help my friends make healthy food choices.” Youth leaders take lessons about healthy eating home to their families, too. HYPE student Priscilla says she has been able to influence her family with “more water, no soda in my refrigerator, whole wheat bread. My sister is a soda lover, so at first she was upset - but now she loves water.” After several visits to urban farms and farmers markets, Priscilla wants to continue to see change in her community: “We need at least one farmers market around my community.”
Through Get HYPE Philly! partners The Village of Arts and Humanities, Norris Square Neighborhood Project and Greener Partners, young people are learning about urban agriculture by growing their own fruits and vegetables and using them to teach peers how to cook healthy meals. Youth leaders run neighborhood farm stands, increasing access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods in North Philadelphia. They also donate the food they grow by running a free, CSA-style delivery program for senior community members and lead a community cooking classes at a local shelter.
In addition to working within their own schools and neighborhoods, Get HYPE Philly! has a Youth Leadership Council made up of a cohort of students from across the city whose goal is to promote healthy living and the development of sustainably healthy communities. These students advise on Get HYPE Philly! Collective programming, serve as youth philanthropists and advocate for policy change. In Get HYPE Philly!’s first year, the Youth Leadership Council chose to focus on urban gardening and healthy food access, and with funding from GSK, had the opportunity to award 18 local nonprofit organizations with a total of $51,000 in mini grants, many of which went toward supporting other youth-led urban farming programs.
Get HYPE Philly! brings people and organizations together to reach a common goal, empowering young people to lead healthier lives. For more information on Get HYPE Philly! or how to get involved, visit www.gethypephilly.org, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @hypephilly.