Rancho Cienega walkers bring people together

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At the Rancho Cienega field and track, the pace is a lot slower, and the chatter is a lot louder. “There’s another one, hi love. How’s it going? Doing fine,” said a walker to another.

imageThe Rancho Cienega track was built for the 1984 Olympics; today it is bringing people together from all over Los Angeles.

Willie Holmes started walking in 1959 after his doctor told him it would fix his knee problems.

“He said all you got to do is exercise and I said I am. He said you ain’t doing enough. I haven’t had a problem since. The older you get the more exercise you got to do more exercise than you ever did in your life and when you start getting old, but a lot of people don’t understand that,” said Holmes.

Today Holmes, who is 81-years-old, spends every morning at the track from 7 to 11 am. He does 16-hundred steps three days a week, and walks a mile on the others. Afterwards you will find him underneath the big tree in the corner eating a healthy breakfast of bananas and pecans, and helping stretch or massage other walkers. He pointed out one man in particular who he helped with arthritis.

He helped rub out Daniel Brown’s knee, who is better known as Mr. Brown at the track. He has been walking there for ten years.

“I retired on Friday and came out here Monday and started walking. I’ve been walking ever since,” said Brown.

He’s been making friends like Willie Holmes since he started walking at Rancho Cienega.

“Everywhere I go I run into someone that I know, no matter what part of town I go in, I run into someone here who walk. They change clothes and don’t look the same and come up and speak and say oh I walk out there, we walk,” said Brown.

Mr. Brown walks a mile with his cane alongside his partners Joney Spencer and Trudy Wiggins. They walk five days a week all year round. When they are done walking they sit on the bleachers and talk about life, sports, and health food. Wiggins says they like to mingle with everyone who passes by.

“We introduce ourselves, we get to know them. So therefore there aren’t too many people who walk out here that we don’t know. We don’t care who they are, so we’re just like one big happy family out here, and if you want to be our family you got to come out here and walk a couple weeks and then we let you get in the family,” said Wiggins.

This group of senior citizens does not go unnoticed by other younger walkers at the track.

“They have done so much for the track, they keep us motivated to keep coming. I’m 54 and I’m the little boy here,” said a younger walker passing by.

The Rancho Cienega track and field is home to a very different kind of family. It’s become the one permanent fixture in many of the walker’s lives.

“A day without walking is a day like something went wrong, like the day’s not complete,” said Wiggings.

Everyone at the track agreed. When they don’t spend the day at the track, they spend it wishing they could be with the Rancho Cienega family.

Crenshaw Yoga finds new opportunities

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With its twinkling lights and brightly lit sign, Crenshaw Yoga and Dance brings light to a dull street in the heart of Crenshaw Boulevard, full of wrought iron bars and unkept storefronts. The owner says she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

And neither would her students.

“Oh I love this studio. It’s the only yoga studio I know of in my area. We live in North Inglewood and it’s the only thing that’s around,” said student Nina Harawa.

Owner Kar Lee Young commutes from the South Bay to Crenshaw everyday. She bought the space so that people in the area would not have to travel far from home for yoga.

“People in the west side they have the benefits you know? They go and experience yoga and I didn’t see people have that experience, so that’s why I brought it over here,” said Young.

Young’s was not the first yoga studio to open in Crenshaw, but it is the only one that remains open today, almost 10 years later. Young only offers two to three classes in the evening.

Young runs the studio and does yoga practice each night, but by day she is a research nurse working and 8-hour hospital shift. She’s been a nurse for 30 years. She trained in England and does prenatal and blood chemistry research.

“Well I’m not coming in to the yoga studio thinking I’m making a big profit or making money. I just offer the service, so people come here and they experience it and like it they come back. I’m not expecting to come in and make major money,” said Young.

Yoga is her hobby. She discovered its value after facing personal struggles in her life. A year after she started she found the benefits to be so tremendous that she needed to share it with others.

“Well I had personally some kind of difficulty in my life and in my marriage and I tried yoga and I find yoga is very useful and very helpful,” said Young.

Despite her busy schedule, yoga keeps Young from getting stressed. And that’s why she wants to bring the practice of yoga to those who are facing physical or mental health problems.

“I want to implement the yoga into the caring and the healing of a patient. I think that would help. I want to bring instructors to the hospital just to teach nurses and doctors that you have to relieve the pressure,” said Young.

Young’s classes are also helping to relieve the stress in peoples’ pockets. The classes are only 10 dollars, something one instructor thinks is unheard of.

“Yeah I’ve been to other yoga studios, but the problem is it costs too much money. I haven’t ever been to a class outside of this area that costs less than 20 dollars,” said instructor Adrienne Smith.

But what’s most special about Crenshaw Yoga, she says, is owner Young.

“Kar Lee is special for one thing. Everything she plants blooms, grows. Everthing. She’s wonderful,” said Smith.

While her yoga studio has already grown in popularity since it first open, she hopes to keep it growing for the people in the community. Young hopes to expand her studio to be open for the community to rent, and is working on new classes.

She already offers senior citizen yoga classes to help with mobility and rehabilitation, candlelight yoga for women, West African drumming, and warm yoga instead of hot. She hopes to get feedback from the students now, and include more unique classes to Crenshaw Yoga in the future.

Crenshaw Yoga and Dance is located at 5426 Crenshaw Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90043

A hidden treasure in Crenshaw

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On busy Crenshaw Boulevard there lies peace and tranquility in the large orange house on the corner. With a Buddha statue and large paper lanterns on the porch, it is unlike all the other homes on the block.

This house is the Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Temple, where you can hear chanting everyday. The temple moved from Hollywood to Crenshaw in 1980 after facing religious and racial intolerance. The abbot and founder of the temple, Walpola Piyananda says he has never felt unwelcome in Crenshaw.

“There are beautiful houses, neighbors are wonderful not making any difficulties. Fortunately in this neighborhood we didn’t get any trouble,” said Piyananda.

Crenshaw Boulevard is the home of many other churches and denominations, however many residents in the area don’t know that the temple, or any practice of Buddhism even exists.

As a local Crenshaw reporter, said he’d never heard of any Buddhism in the area.

“I think most people from what I know in this area would probably be Christian, either Baptist, Methodist, mostly Protestant Christian within the area. I had no idea there were any Buddhist temples or anything Buddhist in Crenshaw period,” said Brian Carter.

There are over 400 Buddhist temples in the Los Angeles area, but only a few people practice and come to Piyananda from Cresnshaw.

“Here most of the people are coming in Sri Lankan communities, born Buddhist families, Tai people, sometimes other ethnicities,” said Piyananda.

The Dharma Vijaya temple offers spiritual advice, religious counseling, and meditation. They don’t advertise within the community and are open to all religions.

“Buddhism we are not trying to convert anyone to our religion. If anyone needs any assistance we help them,” said Piyananda.

After 32 years, the Dharma Vijaya temple has become a permanent fixture in Crenshaw and is helping give back to a community that knows little about its existence.

Foster Youth fights to protect children in court

image“Nothing about us without us” was the slogan at today’s news conference held by the California Youth Connection and Foster Youth organizations outside the Ronald Reagan state bulding.

They came together to voice support for a lawsuit that would appeal a blanket order made by Los Angeles Judge Michael Nash. His order would open juvenile court hearings to the public and media.

Nash’s ruling applies largely to cases concerning child abuse, foster care, and adoption proceedings in court.

Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children’s Law Center of California believes that opening up these cases makes it harder for children’s rights to be protected.

“If the proceedings are open and their information gets out that would lead to identifying who the child is with or where they are living, what school they’ve changed to their physical safety could be threatened.”

Lucias Bouge, grew up in the foster care. He knows how hard it is to become comfortable with your story.

image“Foster youth who are under the age of 18 and don’t necessarily have have the maturity or the growth to be able to do that, no longer have the choice to make it their own. I don’t feel that it’s fair.”

Judge Nash says that the order will not grant automatic entry into these cases.

“The blanket order is designed to establish a process and clear guidelines for how the press and the public can have access to dependency court proceedings in light of existing law.”

In some cases children may want their story to be heard, but the CYC believes there needs to be a choice and case by case assessment of whether any of the information could be harmful.