On behalf of the children, families and community of the South Bronx, I thank you for opportunity to share my story, my passion and my mission with you. One might wonder what a teacher from the South Bronx – the poorest Congressional District in America – would have to say? The answer is simple; Green Bronx Machine! Many years ago my students and I began to observe that as waistlines expanded, engagement and opportunities in school decreased, school performance suffered, and hope and ambition became minimized. Originally an after-school, alternative program for high school students, Green Bronx Machine has evolved into K-12+ model fully integrated into core curriculum. Our students grow, eat and love their vegetables en route to spectacular academic performance.
Why do so many of our favorite memories involve sharing a meal or a snack or a drink with family and friends? How is it that so many special occasions are punctuated with love, kinship, hospitality…and a great meal? Why do we feel the adrenaline rush when we try something new and exciting and delicious….and we love it so much we take a photograph to share with our kindred spirits across the world?
Every community struggles with issues, challenges and injustices. Youth can be powerful agents for change and heal divisions within communities. A change agent is someone who uses their voice and actions to foster and create positive change. Young people have advocated for voting rights, civil rights, immigration reform and LGBT rights. Even small actions can make a difference. Youth have the energy and idealism to eradicate the injustices they see in the world. Even on a small scale youth can make a significant impact and foster positive change.