With childhood obesity and mental health concerns on the rise in youth, nutrition is key to holistically addressing health.
Executive Director of Show and Heal, Xahej Bajipura, and Nutrition and Cooking with Patti had a conversation on the current and future state of children’s health:
In addition to running her own artisanal food company, Patti Lucia is certified as a health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She also has a certificate from Cornell in Nutrition and Healthy Living. She introduces students to the basics of nutrition and why as young healthy people we need to take care of our health. She focuses on small adjustments in nutrition and lifestyle that will help prevent or reduce the risk of disease down the road.
Review her newsletter on hidden sugars in our foods and drinks here:
Value is a wide-range of self-conception. How you see the world reflects on you. How you view it, how you think about it, how you feel about it, will all influence how you are as a person. And no one would know who you are until you show them how you see the world, but that turns out to be very complicated. Showing them who you are, how you work, how every part of you connects, it’s like showing them your soul. It’s showing them who you truly are, and it’s terrifying. It’s showing them parts of you that you aren’t even sure of, yet. And voicing all the questions in your head, afraid of sounding stupid or ridiculous, or voicing the thoughts that sprout the insecurity within you, the thoughts that scare you. Everyone grows up with the fear of being themselves, showing themselves, without even knowing who they are. Growing up, you’re still trying to build yourself up, building up your views, discovering yourself, exploring yourself, struggling with the change in your beliefs, and the world, trying to create your own opinions and observations, figuring out how you fit into the world. So, yeah, it’s scary. Imagine being in a pitch black room, and you can’t even feel anything yet, except the ground beneath your feet. The only thing you feel is the cold, tiled floors underneath you. And you have to move, you have to find a way out of that room, because you can’t see, or feel, or hear anything and you know nothing about what’s in it with you. So, you walk, and you’re trying to find a steady path, all while trying to find your way out into light and freedom. But, in order to find that path, you’re going to step on the things you can’t see that lie on the floors, and you’re going to feel with your hands around you as you walk, and feel things you don’t know of, and you’re going to strain your ears for sounds and hear whispers you can’t quite make out into words.
It’s confusing, isn’t it? It would be confusing, and difficult, and frustrating. It’s painful, and scarring, and troubling. That’s life. That’s figuring out who you are. That’s trust. That dark room is every question you don’t have the answers to about the world and everyone living in it and everything you don’t know about yet. Every wonder, every feeling, is all a dark room. And showing someone how lost you are, showing them how dark that room is, letting them be in that dark room with you, it’s all terrifying. But, all at the same time, that dark room is in your head. Every question you have, every scary thought, every confusing wonder about yourself, is all in your mind. They all don’t exist. They are weightless, volume-less, breaths of air. Yet, they are the heaviest weight in the world, and scream in volume, and they are everything you look at. How it all works, it’s all part of self-conception, and you don’t even know it.
Another teacher introduced me to a young lady who was confident, bright, and a gogetter. Her name is Neila. After speaking to Neila about her two published books of poetry, I knew she would be ideal to interview for the Show and Heal: Haitian segment. There are not too many high school authors I know period so I am proud of Neila for following her passion of writing at such a young age. Neila uses her experiences to connect with readers so they, too, know they are not alone! She is my hero!
My name is Neila Montelus, I am sixteen years young and I am an author. I started writing creatively when I was ten and I started writing poetry when I was twelve. I never knew I was into poetry until I had an assignment during the summer of sixth-grade year. Upon completion of the assignment, I realized that I enjoyed it. The more I explored and wrote, my passion grew.
During my freshman year of high school I received the opportunity to write a book and I took it on. I was fourteen then. I strictly believe in not letting age be the barrier between succeeding. Due to that and abundance of motivation and support, I wrote and published my first collection of poems, Glimpse of the Soul. I wrote Glimpse of the soul to provide individuals with a sense of knowing that whatever they are going through, they are not going through it alone. I wrote it so that readers will find a glimpse of their soul, through mine. I have sold over seventy copies of Glimpse of the Soul and the numbers are still growing.
On March 29th, 2018 of my junior year in high school my second collection of poems, Crookedly Aligned got published. I wrote Crookedly Aligned to show individuals that it is fine to go through hardships or to be different. We are humans and we contradict ourselves. I wrote the book to show readers that it is okay to be imperfect. It took me two years to write and finalize everything. I had to postpone certain things due to academics or scholarship deadlines, however, I never gave up. That also is something that I strongly believe in. When I have a goal in mind, I do not stop until I achieve it.
As I move forward and progress in age, I hope to continue to inspire people and be oblivious to anything that might hinder me from doing so.
It is an honor to give Islam the justice that is much deserved in light of its ongoing inaccurate, harmful exposure in media in the last few decades. Islam is the second largest religion in the world. According to Pew Research in 2017, Muslims account for almost a quarter of the world’s population (research). If Muslims were as dangerous as they are overwhelmingly made out to be in news, then we would be seeing innumerable counts of violence all over the globe.
With all my heart, I wish everyone could see the peace that Islam brings to the over 1 billion homes of Muslims. “Islam” means “peace.” The more we show Muslims for the peaceful, service-oriented, and kind human beings they are, the more we can heal the wounds from hate crimes, stigma, and exclusion. At Show and Heal, we will continue to humanize Muslims and their inspiring children. They belong equally to other religious believers, so it is time we learn to co-exist and see the similarities between our faiths and families.
In the past few months, I have interviewed Muslims not read about, seen, or heard from in traditional news outlets. They truly are some of the most highly educated and ambitious people I have met in my life! Raising awareness of the Muslim culture is very significant to me –being raised Hindu–to break the glass of present-day man-made conflict between Muslims and Hindus stemming from the last few centuries.
What are we fighting for? In human essence, we are identical–emphasis on family values, education, and inner peace for ourselves, families, and society. No one wants to live in fear for their safety. We all want the best for our families, brothers, and sisters of the world.
Have you heard of Google, Instagram, Uber, or Amazon? Let me ask you this, have you ever eaten pizza, Chinese food, hummus, or tacos? What do these companies and foods have in common? None of them would exist if it wasn’t for immigrants in the USA.
Do you know that the original “founders” of America were immigrants? Or that this country has been built by the strong hands of African slaves and cheap immigrant labor mainly from Europe, Asia, and Latin America?
I am Xahej Bajipura of Show And Heal. Over the past four months, I’ve interacted with one specific immigrant community. We’ve interviewed inspiring, beautiful Latino youth in South Florida.
1 out of 4 kids is Latino. By 2060, it is estimated that 1/3 of the US population will be Latino. So please open your eyes and hearts to our future presidents, astronauts, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, and doctors.
I am forever grateful for a young newspaper editor Lulu, an American of Mexican origins, who discovered my journalistic talents. We have so much in common, including loving, hardworking immigrant families. And we are both about empowering the communities we live in.
In San Francisco I grew up with Latinos. They have been my friends, classmates, neighbors, teachers, doctors, police officers, and mentors. Now they are my coworkers and students at one of the largest schools in Florida. Out of the 3700 students 67% are “Hispanic” a label invented in the US and is used only here. Every country in Latin America has its own food, music, dance, culture, and even languages.
I am ecstatic to share interviews of children who themselves are immigrants or second-generation American. I relate to this population given my family migrated to the US from India. Everyone came for the same reason European settlers came—economic opportunity, safety, and freedom.They risked their lives and persevered against the odds.
Currently, Latinos have the highest purchasing power of any group and employ 2.5 million Americans. It was reaffirmed in the interviews that their values are strong and centered in family, education, and hard work. Many work 2-3 jobs to support their families and save for higher education.
Lastly, immigration is nothing new. Our ancestors migrated at some point and we are where we are due to this movement. Please let’s stop living with the same fear and hate that our ancestors experienced trying to better their lives in America. We are all striving for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ourselves and families.
Zephre sits alone up on the roof of the tallest tree he could find inside the concrete jungle. Silence wraps around him and his eyes travel over the lights and the small metal animals that speed along the paths. The visible people wander all around the jungle, some in a hurry, others casually, and some don’t move at all, waiting for the big metal caterpillar to pick them up and take them somewhere else. No one sits still in this jungle though. There is always movement. The waiters stand impatiently tapping their foot, the players’ fingers fly over their instruments, the people walk or run down the street. Females in elaborate outfits and face paint walk with silly men on their arms for money.
Zephre is the only one of his kind. He is invisible. No one and nothing can see him. If he attempts to speak, all that comes out is faint whispers only dogs can hear, but no one can understand except for him. He is alone. He always has been, ever since he was little. He was small when he first remembered. He was in his old home where his mother and father stood guard. They both were dead within minutes when the red men came. They had strange tools to see the invisible ones. He thought he heard one man say it was the shift in the wind pattern that stood out. He may be invisible but his kind still bled. His mother and father both were covered in red, more scarlet than the red men’s face paint. Out of shock, he didn’t move. Doing so saved his life. After the red men left so did little Zephre. He wandered and hoped until he reached the concrete jungle. There he found food and shelter. He refused to leave.
The door to the roof slowly creaks open. Zephre turns and looks on curiously as a young woman comes out of the building. Her face is red and wet from tears as she walks slowly to the edge of the building. Zephre stands as a bad feeling invades his body. The girl, not hearing, walks up to the edge and whispers.
“I know you’re there… you were supposed to protect me. You didn’t… you were supposed to keep me safe. You didn’t. Instead, you worked, took the easy way out by staying with my captor. Now my baby sister is dead. You’re dead. What do I do now?” She steps closer to the edge, getting dangerously close. “Do I join You? Do I jump?” Tears well up in her eyes once more. “Tell me what to do daddy… I feel lost and invisible to everyone around me. No one gets it. They see me but they don’t understand what they see. They hear me but don’t listen. What do I do?”
Zephre stands in awe next to this strange woman. Following an urge, he gently wraps his arms around her and whispers “you’re not the only invisible one” in her ear. She leans into him and sobs, backing away from the edge with him. She allows him to lead her away from the edge.
She whispers back to him. “I’m not the only one who’s invisible… I can feel you holding me and your heart against my back. You are like me… you’re invisible too.”
She grabs his hands and pulls them around herself tighter and he allows her. He doesn’t realize he is becoming more and more distinct. More like the visible ones. After a minute, he becomes just like her. Color and vibrancy coat his body. He opens his brilliant blue eyes and looks down at her. She turns to him and smiles. He smiles back as tears begin to form in his eyes.
He holds her closer and says in a strong, gentle voice, “now we’re both visible.”
–Donna Jones, an empathic, brilliant high school student who explains, “I wrote this because of the number of people who have told me that they feel invisible. It’s good to remember that you’re not alone in that feeling and when you find someone who feels the same way, you can both help each other become visible.”
Sometimes at dusk, we would see him come out from the hidden interior of his island. For years, we had no idea who he was or what he did until the night I stepped foot into the water I had so often stood or sat in after beatings or nightmares. That was the only time he ever showed himself to me, my dark angelic friend standing or sitting on the shores of his mysterious, forbidden island. No man ever goes there unless he wishes never to return. Now, no one goes, and no one leaves. Especially the timeless man who sits across the calm waters from me.
Some nights, like tonight, I would talk to him and pretend he could hear. Wishing he could hear all the pain, the fear, and the need I had for seeing his pitch black hair and beautiful pale skin, contrasting with the black of night and the darkness of the trees. He never wore anything else but black, but always looked clean from where I sat. Some nights, he sings to me in a language I can never identify. He only sings to me on the nights when I want to escape the world forever. The gentle tenor of his voice floats over the waters, the wind carrying it over the small waves to my ears. His voice is comforting and alluring, like a mother’s voice is to an orphan. It calmed me when I was scared, hurt, and lonely.
Tonight, he was on the wrong shore. Tonight he was next to me. Holding me. He started singing his song, the one I recognize from years of listening. This time I understand the words. They speak of the promise of rest. Of peace. Of eternal escape from the fear and pain. For the first time, I join my voice with his. I sing the song and allow it to fill me, emotion overflowing my body as I feel him stiffen and lean into me, almost as if pulled by an invisible thread. I lean into him as well, and he wraps his arms around my shoulders.
The feeling of him holding me is so intoxicating that my vision swims, and I see the moon glinting off of the waters, and off of something else out of the corner of my eye. Ignoring it, I turn my face into his chest, letting him save me from the nightmares, the memories, and the lies. As our song finishes, I feel a sharp pain in my back. it passes quickly, and a numbing bliss enters my body. The last thing I see is his eyes and the last thing I feel is his lips on mine.
I am finally free.
“This story is about a girl who was abused her whole life by her parents until the night she was meant to die, and she symbolizes a piece of my past, from when I was abused. By writing this, I “killed” the control my past has over me. The man symbolizes death, while the water between the two shores symbolizes the division between life and death.” ~ guest contributor, a superstar high school student who aspires to help others.
It takes so much courage to show pain, fear, and hurt from those closest to you. In this process, there is healing. I commend this young writer for sharing a deep secret in her life that has scarred her. However, it has not left her immobilized. She strides empowered and strong as ever! Thank you for shedding light on the reality of children’s lives that many do not expect or know.
The everyday heroes who are children and young teens. This story was written by a beautiful, talented student of mine about how she saved a life from suicide:
“This story is a true story about a close friend of mine who used to cut, and how I kept her from committing suicide.”
~ Donna Jones, a sophomore who has been helping peers and friends with real-life problems, including depression, anxiety, grief, and abuse.
The girl sits on her own, on the floor where no one can see her. She sits with dry eyes and a page in her lap. Her page is marked up with lines from days passed. She lifts her sharp brush and paints a line, and one more, and on till her page is filled with lines, all the same shade of red and black. Her page weeps paint, and her heart fills with tears. She lifts her brush once more to her chest and not to the page marred with scars and fresh wounds. The blade pricks her skin, and a drop of black blood drips down her front to join the same tint on the white tile ground, right as a girl walks in. This girl has known the first for a year and knew of her art for a long while. She did not know of the girl’s plan to end it all that night, to not have to draw a new line, for she wished to draw one last time before death came and claimed her. She stops, the blade held in place by ten stones, and lead fills her heart, as her friend caught on to her plan. She does not scream, or cry, or yell, or gasp, but takes the knife, wipes the paint and the pain from the first girl’s legs, and wraps up the self-made wounds. Clean, wrapped, and sad, the first girl lifts her arms for the friend to take hold of. She lets her lift her and take her to her bed, and lets her hold her for the night. They both stare at the girl in front of them, curled together in a hold that will never break. The next day, they get dressed and leave for school, and wear nice masks. No one knows what they did, only that they share a deep love, and that it will never break. The next girl gives the first a small smile. “I know. I draw too.”
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. THERE’S HELP and a WAY OUT:
Information from https://youthtruthusa.com/cutting-self-mutilation/
If you’re not sure where to turn, please call the resources below:
S.A.F.E. Alternatives information line at (800) 366-8288 for referrals and support for cutting and self-harm.
In the middle of a crisis? If you’re feeling suicidal and need help right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at (800) 273-8255.
Xahej “Xi” Bajipura’s firsthand account of the miracles in unity, inclusion, and selfless service during Hurricane Irma in September 2017 was published in Palm Beach Post’s guest column on October 15, 2017.
POINT OF VIEW: Humankind’s fragility yet beauty
What I witnessed in the four days serving in John I. Leonard High School’s shelter stretched my heart to how deep love can swim in times of crisis.
Imagine uprooting yourself from the comforts of your home, bed and safety in the midst of a devastating hurricane not knowing if there would be a home on your return. This cracked open the window into how refugees must feel except there is no chance of returning home.
About 2,100 people of all backgrounds and ages entered the gates of John I. Leonard. There was richness in life experiences and cultures. I met beautiful families and students of mine from Pahokee, Belle Glade, Haiti, the Caribbean, Bangladesh, Iraq, Guatemala and South America. All were united under one roof in Greenacres.
Despite conditions and finite resources, evacuees offered water and food to each other and volunteers. They shared their limited blankets, pillows and air mattresses to those who came with no bedding. They helped lift elderly from the ground. They aided the disabled using the restroom in the dark.
For the first time in some time I felt that Americans were united above politics, religion, nationality and income. I could breathe in the vastness of humanity, its unlimited greatness.
With unconditional care, volunteers built community in the special needs and physically challenged unit. Our 19-hour volunteer shift around the clock helped us become family to our guests. We organized karaoke and Zumba classes with seniors, including a WWII veteran, amputees, and those with special needs, dementia and PTSD. We played checkers on a homemade checkerboard that one evacuee made with cardboard and Sharpie markers. Guests quickly drank so they could offer their caps and pill bottle tops for game pieces. We told stories and listened. We sent positive vibes of prayers and love to all those affected by hurricanes. One evacuee has already started planning activities and games for her next stay at the shelter.
“When I first entered the shelter, I thought that I was making a big mistake. I never had a reason to stay at a shelter before. I thank God for the volunteers who made my experience at the shelter a memorable one of joy and unity during a difficult time. Let’s not forget that a few of the (horror) stories were true, but we all worked together to create an environment where God is welcomed,” said Inger Hogan, a disabled Zumba instructor who shared her passion for dance with seniors.
No matter where you come from, how much money you have, what religion you practice or what you believe in, natural disasters don’t discriminate. As humans we are all connected by natural forces that go beyond the surface. Hurricane Irma reminded us of humankind’s fragility yet beauty. I have so much gratitude for my ability to bond and serve in ways I did not know were possible.
XI BAJIPURA, GREENACRES
Editor’s note: Bajipura is an ESE VE instructor in the Social Sciences at John I Leonard High School.
We were not born by accident given the odds calculated by scientists showing the odds of you being born are at least 1 in 400 trillion IF NOT 1 in 400 quadrillion and most likely 1 in 102,640,000. That is incredibly unlikely to the point of impossible.
Odds of Being Born Infographic by Designer Sofya Yampolsky
The analogy given by Dr. Ali Binazir on the probability of YOU being born is here:
“It’s the probability of 2.5 million people getting together — about the population of San Diego — each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice — and they all come up the exact same number — say, 550,343,279,001.” Learn more here: Dr. Ali Binazir’s Article on Probability of Being Born
Even with the lowest statistic of 1 in 400 trillion, you would have a better chance of winning over $100 million dollar lottery 9 times over your life again than you would have being born.
Now before you start telling your parents that they could have traded any of your younger siblings for the lottery winnings, your siblings are miracles too! This basically ZERO CHANCE of BEING BORN shows me that WE ALL DESERVE having an EQUAL PLACE on Earth! We were all meant to be here and that we must find our purpose that brought us into creation! Regardless of your skin color, country of origin, body size, religion, gender, or viewpoint, WE ALREADY MADE IT HERE.
Please let’s LEARN to
Be True to YOU (There is no one else like you. If there was they would have been born and not you…)