Saul Quijada, left, shops for vegetables at Lee's Market, which works with the Southeast Food Access organization to add healthier options at the store. (Connor Hunt/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Saul Quijada, left, shops for vegetables at Lee's Market, which works with the Southeast Food Access organization to add healthier options at the store. (Connor Hunt/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Shaping up San Francisco’s unhealthiest populations

A 19-year-old runner and surfer, a nurse, and a woman who lost 150 pounds.

Those are some of the 13 Bayview residents receiving “healthy hero” honors today as part of an advertising campaign on Muni to encourage others in the neighborhood to improve their diets and exercise more.

Since 2006, a group known as Shape Up San Francisco has worked to improve the health of residents through efforts like campaigns to curb the drinking of soda or increasing nutritious foods in communities that lack access to them like Bayview.

One of the group’s initiatives is the Bayview Healthy Eating and Active Living Zone (HEAL). HEAL has helped corner stores sell healthier products like fruits and vegetables, or boost physical activity, like the planned walking path by Martin Luther King Jr. Pool and surrounding park. Today, HEAL will host a ceremony honoring the 13 healthy hero nominees. The event takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Southeast Community Facility, 1800 Oakdale Ave.

Those being honored include: Joan Breed-Pierson who lost 150 pounds; Francine Carter-Harris, a nurse; and Trevon Boykins, a recent high school graduate who lives a healthy lifestyle running track and surfing.

A Healthy Heroes advertising campaign on Muni shelters along Third Street and buses will launch Sept. 7.

Kenneth Hill, a HEAL Zone coordinator, said the ad campaign is meant to counter all the adverse health ads seen around the neighborhood, like tobacco or processed foods. He’s optimistic from the improvements he has already seen. For example, two years ago nobody was bicycling or playing in the park — and that’s changed.

A few years ago, there was nowhere to purchase healthy foods, but now there are four corner stores with more nutritious foods.

The HEAL Zone, in San Francisco’s predominantly black neighborhood, attempts to overcome troubling health trends. “When you look at us as a population as whole we are super healthy,” said Christina Goette, a senior health program planner for the Department of Public Health.

“When you start looking at the data by population that’s when you see the disparities — so African-American, Latino and to a growing degree some parts of the Asian population are unhealthy [and] have really disparate outcomes.”

Among Shape Up’s other accomplishments was to help raise awareness of the need for physical education in public schools. “When we started this work there were six [physical education] specialists for 72 elementary schools,” Goette said. “Last year there were about 36.”BayviewBayview Healthy Eating and Active Living ZoneChristina GoetteChuck CollinsFoodfood securityLos Angelespublic healthSan FranciscoShape Up San Francisco

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