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Local leaders discuss Cambodian heritage, police profiling and park access in Long Beach

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su as the first in a series of profiles of API members of the community.

Ladine Chan and Patrick Duong are not your typical father-son duo. In fact, they aren’t related at all. But, judging from their good-natured banter, one might assume otherwise. Chan, Program Coordinator for Educated Men with Meaningful Messages (EM3) — a youth program under Families in Good Health at Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach — works with primarily Cambodian youth, aged 14 to 19. He himself was once a youth in the program over a decade ago. Duong, who just completed his first year at Long Beach City College, is a recent graduate of the program. He credits EM3 with helping him finish high school.

As residents of Long Beach, Chan and Duong have limited access to safe parks. Most are poorly maintained and rife with gang activity. Furthermore, Long Beach residents must also contend with a lack of access to healthy foods. In a neighborhood where the most readily available groceries are from corner stores or liquor stories, many families have to travel at least three or four miles in order to purchase nutritious goods.

Despite the area’s lack of resources, programs such as EM3 exist to help residents combat the odds they face. The EM3 youth attend workshops every Friday on subjects ranging from life skills to violence in the community to healthy relationships. The program also teaches youth about their own cultural heritage, given that the majority of their parents are refugees of the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime.

“It gets very emotional to talk about what happened during the genocide, very traumatizing,” Chan said. “That’s why some of the youth get lost in it.”

Many members of the Cambodian community in Long Beach, which Chan estimates comprises 30 to 40 percent of the total population in the area — the largest Cambodian population anywhere outside of Phnom Penh — suffer from untreated PTSD. This makes it difficult for parents, unwilling to bring up the past, to discuss their background with their children. The result is that Cambodian youth know little about what the previous generation experienced.

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HEAL Community Fest

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su to update APIFM supporters on current initiatives.

At Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) Saturday morning, APIFM hosted a Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Community Festival, sponsored by Champions for Change and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Co-sponsors included SIPA, Pilipino Workers’ Center (PWC), Para Los Niños, the office of Mitch O’Farrell, Mother and Vision Zero.

Attendees started off by participating in a Zumba class led by Pamela Price, laughing as they danced to upbeat pop music. Afterward, they headed indoors to sample refreshing fruit smoothies. Ivy Daulo demonstrated how attendees could prepare the smoothies at home while Esther Lee answered questions about nutrition and healthy eating. They learned about the Rethink Your Drink campaign, which focuses on how we can choose healthier drinks such as water and beverages without added sugar. Finally, Ivy did a demo for mango black bean salad, which attendees also got to sample.

To conclude the morning, raffle tickets were drawn; a lucky few received reusable bags containing Champions for Change t-shirts, aprons, cutting boards, among other goodies. Those who were still up for it did a little extra Zumba on their way out.

All in all, it was a fun and productive morning. Thank you to everyone who attended.

If you missed out, Ivy leads weekly HEAL workshops at PWC on Thursdays at 6 p.m. All are welcome!

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Healthy Korean Food!

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su to update APIFM supporters on current initiatives.

On Tuesday evening, I got to watch a group of Korean women test a handful of traditional recipes. They prepared dishes such as chapchae (stir-fried noodles) and bibimbap (a spicy mixed rice bowl), both of which were delicious. Health Education Coordinator Esther Lee was present to translate, while Monica Bhagwan, program manager for Leah’s Pantry, observed and asked questions about the cooking process.

This session was part of an effort to develop Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese recipes for Eatfresh.org, one of multiple databases of healthy recipes for low-income individuals and families eligible for CalFresh/SNAP. In the past, these databases have not included many culturally relevant dishes; APIFM in partnership with Leah’s Pantry hopes to change that one recipe at a time, gradually increasing the number of recipes from Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultures.

APIFM staff enlisted the help of community members to brainstorm recipes and prepare the dishes in collaboration with Leah’s Pantry staff. The recipes were developed to align with dietary guidelines suggesting low sodium, low sugar and less fat. For example, the chapchae was prepared with less soy sauce.

The Korean recipe development group was comprised of participants from APIFM’s Healthy Eating & Active Living (HEAL) workshop series at Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC)‘s affordable housing, the Menlo Family Apartments in Koreatown.

The Koreatown HEAL participants will also be offering a free class, How to Make Kimchi, 4:30 p.m. June 17 at Doulos Mission Church, so come by and learn from the experts!

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