This April, our KidWorks blog series will highlight two extraordinary students. All of our students are “stars” in our humble estimation, and the two we’ll introduce you to this month are examples of how your support develops them in ways that make them contributing members of society throughout their entire lives. In this installment, we are proud to feature Maritza Urquiza.
No one ever has to tell seventh grader Maritza Urquiza to eat all her vegetables.
In fact, she may be the one doing the telling!
That’s because this conscientious KidWorks student has made it her personal mission to help fight obesity and bring healthy eating to all residents of Santa Ana.
Just ask Emma O’Brien, our Youth & Community Engagement Coordinator for Health and Nutrition.
“Martiza is a youth representative for Santa Ana Health & Nutrition Advocates (SAHNA), a youth action team that is part of KidWorks Youth Empowerment Network,” Emma says.
In this role, Martiza plays an integral part in our partnership with the Santa Ana Unified School District to upgrade kitchens and cafeterias, while also providing students with nutritional choices that they will find appealing. As part of that collaboration, our youth are developing a survey that SAUSD can use to help identify and provide healthier breakfast and lunch options.
For Martiza, healthy eating habits are just as important at home as they are at school.
“Martiza strives to live a healthier lifestyle in her own home, and encourages her family to do the same,” Emma says. “She and the other youth enrolled in our SAHNA program have also set their own personal health goals, including eating a healthier diet.”
Emma says that Martiza has really grown in her leadership abilities and self-confidence during the time she’s been part of SAHNA.
“I have personally seen Maritza develop as a leader,” Emma says. “She thoughtfully shares her ideas, keeps our team on track and leads by example.”
Emma also applauds all the SAHNA students who she says are “changing central Santa Ana from the inside out and in a very positive way.”
By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer