Despite odds, a boost in heart health for South LA

By Belinda Cai, Diana Crandall, Bentley Curtis, Taylor Haney, Daniel Jimenez, Kevin Mallory, Ken Mashinchi, Jonathan Tolliver and Yingzhi Yang

Zumba class at the Baldwin Hills Mall. | Daniel Jimenez

Zumba class at the Baldwin Hills Mall. | Daniel Jimenez

The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw community is changing shape.

The South L.A. neighborhood has received various grants within the past several years to start programs aimed at reducing its relatively high rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity while improving access to nutrition and basic health services.

For many people, these efforts have worked. Take Debra Finley, who signed up for free Zumba classes through the BFit program at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

“I was 195 pounds,” said Finley. “Now I’m 145.”

It is still unclear whether overall health outcomes are improving in the area. Many of these programs are less than a decade old, and are being pushed into neighborhoods that remain swamped with fast food restaurants and liquor stores. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 8 percent of area food retailers in the area are considered healthy.

Yet, many positive trends are emerging. [Read more…]

Watts youth yoga group changes lives, one breath at a time

By Paige Jarvie Brettingen

Disheartened by the rising teen incarceration rates in California, Y.O.G.A. for Youth was founded in South Central Los Angeles by Krishna Kaur in 1971. image Reaching out to kids through schools and detention centers, the yoga program teaches them how the power of their breath can ease anger, frustration and stress.

With a background in martial arts and yoga, Joe Jackson became both an instructor and mentor for sixth graders at The Watts Learning Center- the first school to participate in the program. Two years later, the students still remember the yoga poses and are anxious to start practicing again.

imageStudents practicing yoga.

Though the students will not receive yoga classes again until the summer, Jackson visited last month, encouraging them to participate once the program starts again at their school and reminding them that “stepping up to do the right thing” will reward them in the future.

In addition to its outreach in Los Angeles, Y.O.G.A. for Youth now has programs in New York, North Carolina, and Mexico. To learn more about the program, visit

Find fun Mother’s Day activities in South LA

Mother’s Day is fast approaching! If you’re looking for something fun to do with mom in South LA this weekend, we’ve got some suggestions. Have other ideas? Post them in the comments below.

And a big thank you to all the mothers, step-mothers, adopted mothers, aunts, and grandmothers in our lives!

imageBlack Women for Wellness ( is holding its annual fundraiser on Mother’s Day this year. Last year, money raised from the event helped educate more than 500 women on breast and cervical health as well as initiating a “Green Chemistry Tips” project to provide natural, environmentally-friendly alternatives to beauty and household products for the African American community. They’re hoping to have a similarly successful outcome this year.

Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011, 2-5 pm, Community Build Garden
4305 Degnan Boulevard
Leimert Park, Los Angeles, CA 90008

Take a class at Crenshaw Yoga and Dance

Share something with mom that everyone can love—good health and peace of mind. Crenshaw Yoga and Dance offers all levels yoga classes that embrace beginners and experienced yogis alike. The studio is even owned by mother-daughter team, KarLee and Melissa Young.

5426 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90043

Smell the roses at the Exposition Park Rose Garden

Anyone can send mom a bouquet, but how about spending a day checking out flowers still on the vine? This urban oasis is a great place for a Sunday stroll.

Exposition Park Rose Garden
Open daily from 9:00 am – sunset
701 State Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Get a massage at Lotus on the Nile

Moms work hard, and what better way to offer a reward than a soothing massage at the Lotus on the Nile Wellness Center in Leimert Park. In addition to several styles of massages, the wellness center also offers yoga and acupuncture.

4307 Crenshaw Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90008

Shop for fresh food at the Wellington Square Farmers Market

If you’re thinking about cooking dinner for your mom, how about taking her to help pick out ingredients at the Wellington Square Farmers Market in the historic West Adams neighborhood? The market accepts EBT and all fruits and vegetables sold at the market are grown without the use of pesticides.

Open every Sunday, 9am-1pm
W Washington Blvd & Wellington Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Enjoy tea and history at the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum

The Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum hosts an annual Mother’s Day Tea where tea sandwiches and pastries are presented in a beautiful and historic setting. There will be guitar music and a dance performance as well.

Reservations are required, and can be made by calling or emailing the museum.

May 7, 2011
11:00am -1:00pm

18127 S. Alameda St.
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220
(310) 603-0088

Dinner and dancing at the Mother’s Day Slam & Jam Love-In

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the evening, check out this fundraiser to benefit Mother’s Day Radio and the Youth Media Symposium & Concert. Dinner will be served, followed by poetry and music. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

Sunday, May 8
7:00pm – 11:00pm
Angel’s Piano Bar & Supper Club
2460 Wilshire Blvd.