Southwest Merced and the east Merced County unincorporated communities of Planada, Le Grand, and Beachwood-Franklin combine to make up the BHC area in Merced. With a diverse population exceeding 55,000, these neighborhoods share challenges including high levels of poverty, unemployment, lack of access to health care, and the highest level of disconnected youth in the state.
In spite of its challenges, Merced Building Healthy Communities (MBHC) and its partners are changing the narrative and advocating for improvements on multiple levels. From increasing health access and addressing exclusionary school discipline policies with restorative alternatives, to empowering our youth so their voices are heard, MBHC is bringing together diverse youth and residents, as well as community groups and local agencies to create a safe and healthy community filled with opportunities for all.
Advocates gathered in Merced, and similar demonstrations were held around the state, according to advocates, to get elected officials to support Senate Bill 623, which aims to provide a stable source of funding to implement California’s Human Rights to Water, Assembly Bill 685 from 2012.
Crews have started construction on the new All Wheels Skate Park in South Merced. Members of Building Healthy Communities (BHC), along with city and county officials attended a groundbreaking for the project on Wednesday in McNamara Park. "This park is in South Merced. The park is a little disinvested in, so BHC is in those disinvested communities," BHC Hub Manager Sol Rivas said.
A group of San Joaquin Valley residents went to the U.S.-Mexican border last week to examine a detention center for undocumented immigrants and shared their experiences listening to the "cries of immigrant parents" for their separated children.
Restorative Justice & Improved School Climate: Merced BHC’s Schools Action Team and its partners are working together with four school districts in Merced County to replace zero tolerance policies with restorative approaches. Improving school climate and student wellness efforts are also among their top priorities.
Youth Opportunities and Youth Voice: Investing in Merced’s future means investing in their youth. In response to years of disinvestment, the Neighborhoods Action Team is on the front lines with local youth advocating for youth inclusion in decisions that impact them. Advocacy has led to the establishment of a Merced City Youth Council and heightened awareness of the importance of long-term investments in youth which are being pursued.
Expanding Health Access To all Merced: Merced BHC recognizes that everyone in Merced County and beyond should have equitable access to affordable health coverage. That is why Merced BHC’s Prevention Action Team and its partners have coordinated outreach efforts to dramatically increase health coverage enrollments, as well as advocate for a statewide #Health4All solution. Much work remains but our BHC collaborative is moving with momentum and promise.
Youth Media reporters Stephanie Gurtel and Victor Seguin sat down with Grammy-award winning artist Common during his stop in Merced, Calif. on his Hope and Redemption Tour.
During the Hope and Redemption Tour, Common performed at reconciliation and rehabilitation facilities, to encourage positive transformation and influence the #SchoolsNotPrisons pipeline.