Champions for Change

Champions for Change

May 18, 2018
Sonia Torres



LOS ANGELES, May 18, 2018 ­—Youth Policy Institute (YPI), in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), recently unveiled new traffic improvements and safety measures at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Gramercy Place as part of the Champions for Change – Healthy Communities Initiative.

The improvements, which include new traffic signals, curb extensions and crosswalks, were made as a result of a walking safety assessment conducted with input from Grant Elementary and the local community under the Champions for Change – Healthy Communities Initiative, which aims to create healthier environments for low-income individuals and families where they live, learn, work, play and shop.  The intersection is a major route to school for hundreds of students at Grant Elementary.

“Youth Policy Institute is invested in making sure the Champions for Change initiative affects positive change, and the walking assessments are just one part of a holistic approach YPI is taking to address the issue of active transportation,” said Shawn Bolton, Director of Health & Wellness at Youth Policy Institute. “These safety improvements near Grant Elementary are an extension of our continuing collaboration with Promise Zone communities to improve the safety and overall health of families.”

Funded by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the United States Department of Agriculture, the initiative provides support in three main areas: nutrition education, physical activity, and active transportation.

For the past year, YPI hosted 27 community and outreach events, along with 20 taskforce meetings with community members regarding active transportation and four walking safety assessments with LADOT. Additionally, YPI has hosted 837 nutritional education and physical activity classes at 10 schools, reaching 8,173 students.

Key efforts under the initiative also include teaching fundamental skills such as cooking, reading food labels, shopping on a budget, growing fruits and vegetables, and introducing low-cost and fun ways to be physically active. In addition, champions in communities throughout the county will be identified to help improve access to healthier foods and increase opportunities to be physically active in a variety of settings, including early childcare centers, schools, corner stores, parks, worksites, and cities.

According to the L.A. County: A Cities and Communities Health Report, obesity-related chronic illnesses continue to rank among the top 10 leading causes of premature death, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. While the obesity epidemic continues to impact virtually all population groups, about 27% of children and 20% of adults in the Metro L.A. area are obese. Childhood obesity rates in communities such as Boyle Heights, Central City, Downtown L.A., Echo Park, El Sereno, Hollywood, Mid-City Wilshire, Monterey Hills, Mount Washington, Silverlake, West Hollywood, and Westlake are far higher than the average rate of 13.3% across Los Angeles County.

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For over 30 years, Youth Policy Institute (YPI) has been breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. YPI reaches more than 115,000 youth and adults annually at 137 program sites in Los Angeles. YPI is the only agency in the country to have been awarded all three signature White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives: Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods, and Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation; and is the lead implementation partner for the Los Angeles Promise Zone. Together, these initiatives form a place-based approach to fighting poverty, reducing crime, improving educational opportunities, and creating access to jobs. For more information, visit

This material was produced by the California Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch with funding from USDA SNAP-Ed, known in California as CalFresh. These institutions are equal opportunity providers and employers. CalFresh provides assistance to low-income households and can help buy nutritious food for better health. For CalFresh information, call 1.877.847.3663. For important nutrition information, visit

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