Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dear Friend of Urban Sprouts,

You may have read in the news that California’s unparalleled obesity crisis has become an epidemic. Poor nutrition and health are the second leading cause of death and disability.

You may have seen in your community that more and more children cope with adult health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

How can we allow this epidemic to touch our children? At the four San Francisco public schools where Urban Sprouts works, 50% of youth are overweight and 93% are considered unfit, according to state fitness standards. That is more than double the rate of overweight youth in the rest of San Francisco.

This astonishes me. Too many of the bright, opinionated and spunky youth I see every day at school are not getting the nutrition and daily exercise they need to grow strong and live long, healthy, and happy lives. And they are unfairly affected more than their peers from wealthier neighborhoods!

Everyday, in San Francisco, Urban Sprouts is helping urban youth to give their peers a different choice: fresh, healthy organic food grown right at their own schools. By nurturing living plants, harvesting and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, youth are nourishing their bodies and cultivating a commitment to healthy living.

This is why I’m urging you, right now, to click the “Donate Now” button above and make a donation of $35, $50, or $100. Your support for Urban Sprouts will make a meaningful difference.

By supporting Urban Sprouts, you’ll be providing school gardens where youth can connect deeply with peers, adults and the natural world, and eat veggies that taste of accomplishment and community, as well as good health.

Like me, you may notice the many teens who stop at mini marts on the way to school every morning and buy bags of neon red hot chips and super sized sweet drinks. Urban Sprouts seventh graders studied the nutrition facts on snacks and scooped the 25 teaspoons of sugar contained in one drink into a baggie to examine. We contemplated teenage depression and mood swings compounded by eating mass amounts of sugar.

Then, we went outside to the garden. The students dug their shovels into garden soil, using their strength to mix in nourishing compost, stopping only to admire graceful butterflies and wiggling worms. After 15 minutes we all stopped to take our pulses. Our hearts were beating at the recommended level for teens’ daily exercise. Whew! That felt amazingly good.

Urban Sprouts uses garden-based education to help urban youth make sense of the mixed messages they get from TV, parents, celebrities and peers about what to eat and why. When youth make educated choices about eating they have the power to resist media and marketing pressure and to live in a way that truly feels good.

I know you care about these issues as much as I do. That’s why I'm asking you for your help today. I want to offer you the chance to join the Urban Sprouts community yourself, as a donor and supporter.

Urban Sprouts was founded in 2003 by teachers from Luther Burbank Middle School and volunteers from the community who wanted to make a difference. Since then, over 450 youth have worked, played and explored in the garden. We’ve expanded to reach over 450 youth each year at four public schools: June Jordan School for Equity, Ida B. Wells Continuation High School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, and the Small Middle School for Equity (formerly Burbank).

You’ll be interested to know that Urban Sprouts is uniquely designed to support urban middle and high schools serving disadvantaged youth. At Urban Sprouts schools, over 60% of youth are from low-income families and over 95% are youth of color.

These are the schools most in need of school gardens: in San Francisco, only 15% of school gardens serve middle or high school youth and 30% of school gardens belong to economically disadvantaged schools. That’s why our model is so crucial, for youth here and in other cities.

Urban Sprouts’ four areas of impact are:
❋ Health and Nutrition
❋ Ecoliteracy & Eco-Actions
❋ Academic Performance
❋ Youth Development
Urban Sprouts supports urban schools using a four-tiered approach:

Garden-based science class: Over 450 students experience hands-on lessons in environmental science and nutrition, garden work, and cooking, led by our Garden Educators with teachers and volunteers.

Research-tested curriculum: Results of our evaluation research already show that students recognize, prefer and choose to eat more vegetables after Urban Sprouts’ lessons. Our research partners are Tufts University and UC Berkeley.

Family Connections: Urban Sprouts is piloting a new approach to low parent involvement in struggling urban middle schools. We’re using the school garden to engage families and help them improve the school through greening, healthy food, and more.

A Model to help other urban middle and high schools: The results of our research will help other urban middle and high schools replicate our program.

After only three years, the response to Urban Sprouts is inspiring. School principals tell us the growing garden brings a sense of pride, beauty, and meaning to the gray and bleak urban setting of their schools. Teachers tell us the cooperation, leadership and self-confidence of students in the garden brings tears to their eyes. Students tell us they’ve started asking their parents to cook special family meals with garden fresh ingredients.

The community connections that grow from the garden are the most nourishing and meaningful results of all. We want you to join us! By giving to Urban Sprouts right now, you will make an investment in the healthy future of our youth and our communities, and you get to be a part of school gardens, today!

Please join us today! CLICK HERE to DONATE NOW and give your gift of $35, $50 or $100.

Thank you very much.

Warm wishes to you,

Abby R. Jaramillo

Executive Director
abby AT urbansprouts DOT org

P.S. We need you! In addition to your gift, we invite you to the garden, to mentor students during the day, help with garden building projects, or to serve on our board. EMAIL ME to get involved!

P.P.S. Our fiscal sponsor, Urban Resource Systems, Inc, accepts online gifts on our behalf. When you click the "Donate Now" button you'll see URS's name, but your gift will be designated for Urban Sprouts' programs. Thanks!


Six said...

This is a wonderful blog for a great cause! I'm subscribing to the feed. :)

David Weitzel said...

I sub teach sometimes at our local schools, often as a P.E. teacher. ( I am a sports coach). My conclusion is that instead of stacking cups at the elementary school level, or standing in long lines to shoot a basketball, students could in fact benefit from 45 minutes of excercise, the same excercise now prohibited in schools ?

Alan@HealthyDietPodcast said...

What a tremendous thing you are doing here, teaching our youth about healhty eating and organic gardening.

Abut 90% of our health problems would be taken care of if we just ate right. There's a healh care plan for our country!

Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Your blog has interesting articles. It is really nice! Keep it up! I was randomly looking at blogs and visited yours.

I have a small request; will you please help me to spread the message for Free Life Coaching (only if you approve it)? I want to help people by supporting and guiding them to learn the strategies and tools of life coaching. Life coaching is amazing it can radically transform your life. It is completely free.

BionicBuddha said...

Great cause and interesting commentary, thanks for sharing!

anonymous jones said...

Brilliant idea and one that needs to be a world wide movement! I'm not joking - contact Jamie Oliver .. I'm sure something could be started in Britain, goodness' knows they need it, and everywhere else, too.

But don't your gardens get vandalised? How do you stop that?

R2K said...

What a cool program :)

Anonymous said...

This is incredibly powerful stuff here. Having worked in a restaurant that supports local farming and learned how organic food perpetuates quality of life, I am all ears! Hope the program continues to succeed and breed more urban programs throughout the States. I am also a strong believer in learning good eating habits from home. Do these programs also reach out to families to teach them how to eat healthier?

Shaun said...

What a great concept!

Great post!


** Shaun **
My awesome blog:


The Yacht Broker said...

I'll donate for your Sprouts $200.
Hope it's alright?

Keep moving,

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Nice program!!!!!!!

Cute Indian Girl said...

Congratulation of Being "Blog of Note" Your Blog Deserve it. Keep up the Good Work.

Hardware space

Anonymous said...

Come visit us at the Cook Park community garden in Denver.. Part of Denver Urban Gardens.

Anonymous said...

Great intiative .Good luck

Anonymous said...

Very Nice Blog

Just go through the Blog

It is about Weird India. You can link to posts in it if you like. Pl. do not Just Copy Paste the Posts from it as all are Copyright of Weird India. Linking to these posts is allowed with your comments/reviews etc. said...

Organic foods are the new thing right now but will be the norm heading into the future.

tgags said...

Very nice idea.

Just a couple of comments on the topic.

Youth obesity and poor nutrition is not just due to socioeconomics.

I am a teacher, I have taught in an elementary school and now teach in high school.

Schools are cutting gym class time because of the governments concern with standardized testing. The are also infusing vocabluary and tests in gym. I witnessed a 3rd grade 30 minute (once a week) gym class reduced to 15 minutes of physical activity because the teacher was going over vocabulary (a result of "literacy across the curriculum").

In the high school I teach at I see kids eating junk food all the time - not because of socioeconomics, but because of lack of nutrition education, combined with the availability of junk food.

Lastly, when I was a kid I used to be out playing with friends all the time. Nowadays kids sit on the computer surfing the web, sit on the floor in front of the TV playing Playstation, and sit talking on their cell phones for hours.

The demands of work all play a role, as it takes parent away from time with their kids. It was reported that america has surpassed Japan as far as how many hours people put in at their jobs.

Mr. G

Anonymous said...

tremendous community project that meets the need of the current society. keep it up!

Maj Pain said...

Great blog and informative!

Anonymous said...

Hey nice blogs.. you're pages are real interesting!

Please take some time to fill out a survey for a school project of mine, I need to have atleast 50 results by wednesday! Please tell your friends and family i'd greatly appreciate it if you could help me out! Thanks!

Survey for my School project!

Erik said...

Fantastic blog. I love it!!! My friends all got an e-mail about it. We are contributing to similar efforts in our local community. Keep up the good work and keep up the blogs...knowledge spreads geometrically.

Peace, health, and joy,


Abby RJ said...

Thank you, readers! Your enthusiasm and encouraging words really mean a lot to us! Keep spreading the word that school gardens can make a difference.

Anonymous said...

I commend your acts of connected youth with their food source. I've noticed with the increasing obesity and inactivity, children are pretty much disconnecting from their own bodies.

I believe that what your program is doing is another step towards saving the world. My blog also addresses other unusaul steps towards empowerment.

Anonymous said...

Wow a cause-oriented blog always deserve a good note!

May i ask if you are, by any way, a filipino?

Anonymous said...

This is a great initiative.

minordifferences_editor said...

This is a fabulous cause. I am interested in reading and with your permission would like to plug your blog on my blog (which is centered about ways in which the "regular" person may contribute to helping global youth), entitled "Minor Differences". Good luck and I look forward to learning more about this!!

佩剑布衣 said...

that's very good!
I like your blog.I'll come again next time !
can we become frendds?
I'm a chinese student

legitimate007 said...

This is such a great cause. with so much violence and "garbage" in the world today, Its very refreshing to me to see a blog like this.........keep on

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Spider63 said...

Physical Education is not required in most public schools. Kids are getting fatter, and that is sad!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Best Regards
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