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Facilities Initiatives | Healthy Spaces, Healthy People

Fremont Wellness Center and Community Garden

A partnership between Fremont High School, the University Muslim Medical Association(UMMA) Community Clinic, and Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust.

History of Project

Fremont High School, located in inner-city South Los Angeles, has one of the poorest health rates in comparison to all of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools where 40% of their students are overweight or obese, 42% are physically unfit, and 1/3 of students are direct or in-direct victims of violence. Fremont's surrounding neighborhoods not only have the highest rates of poverty in Los Angeles County but coronary heart disease, stroke, and homicide are prevalent and are the leading causes of death.

To address these critical health and environmental disparities, two organizations partnered with the LAUSD to develop the Fremont Wellness Center and Community Garden. The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT), a non-profit whose mission is to grow healthier, safer and stronger communities by creating green and recreational spaces in underserved neighborhoods, and the University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA), a non-profit clinic that promotes the well-being of the underserved by providing access to quality healthcare to all, and the LAUSD partnered in this joint use project to develop the space on the Fremont campus that had been underutilized for over 20 years.

The new Wellness Center and Community Garden will provide much needed healthcare services, food access, and green and safe spaces for the local community.

Project Conception

The Joint Use Program in LAUSD conceived the partnership project at Fremont High School by targeting the lowest-performing and health "hot spots" schools to channel joint use bond funds. The Joint Use Program identified community resource needs, seeked out joint use opportunities, and outreached to UMMA and LANLT to be potential partners to serve as catalysts for community revitalization of Fremont High School and transform it into a community center for South Los Angeles. UMMA Clinics and the LANLT are well established organizations in South Los Angeles and were the best fit to fill the needs of the school and community to make the Fremont Wellness Center and Community Garden vision a reality.

Project Description

The Fremont High School Wellness Center and Community Garden is a one and a half acre facility which will provide safe, open, green space, and quality health services for students and the surrounding community. The wellness center, will be run by the UMMA Clinic and will provide free or reduced-rate medical, and behavioral services to the students, staff, and the community. The community garden, medicinal garden, neighborhood park, greenhouse, and orchard, run by the LANLT will provide healthy food to the community, educational opportunities like cooking and nutrition classes, and job training opportunities, which will result in employment for community residents, and additionally serve as a service learning area for the 2,200 students attending Fremont High School.

In addition, MESA (Medicinal, Environmental, Science and Agriculture academy), a new Small Learning Community at Fremont, resulted from the development of this project and the Wellness Center and Community Garden will be used to enhance the academy's curriculum. The multi-use greenhouse area will be used as an indoor classroom space, a community gathering area, and a farmers' market area.

On an annual basis, it is anticipated that 400 students will use the site and approximately 2,000 community members. This partnership has resulted in an innovative school/community-based health promotion and disease prevention project to improve the health outcomes of the students and residents living in the South Los Angeles community.

Project Implementation

In order to make the Fremont High School Wellness Center and Community Garden a success, a community assessment was completed by the Special Service for Groups' (SSG) Research and Evaluation team who was contracted by UMMA and the LANLT. Community members were not only research subjects, but acted as researchers as well. They helped design the research process to address their concerns and build upon their knowledge, relationships, and lived experiences.

The community needs assessment allowed Fremont High School students and residents to get involved and learn more about the importance of the Wellness Center and Community Garden in their neighborhood. Community members were able to develop programming recommendations in response to community needs and get a sense of ownership for this development. Through qualitative and quantitative research, the results demonstrated the need for teen pregnancy, mental health, and dental care services. In addition, there was a high demand for healthy food access and interest in cooking classes and using plants as medicine in the Fremont High School community. The results were taken into account in developing the design and programming of the Wellness Center and Community Garden.

Project Sustainability

In April 2010, the LAUSD School Board approved $3.4 million in capital funds for the planning, design, and construction of the Community Garden and Wellness Center. The Land Trust will leverage the joint use dollars allocated to this project with a grant from the State California Fire of $340,000 and its investment of long-term programming, oversight, and student and community involvement. The investment from the Land Trust will total over $500,000 for personnel, programming, and material costs. UMMA is leveraging initial investments of $200,000 from LA Care Health Plan and estimates an annual operating budget of over $800,000 annually. The California Endowment has provided funding of $230,000 to both the Land Trust and UMMA to support student and community engagement, program planning and a comprehensive health assessment report. Funding for this project was generously provided by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the California Endowment, the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, and CHASE.

Model Practices

The Wellness Center and Garden Project at Fremont High School in collaboration with UMMA and the Land Trust demonstrate the following model practices for increased access of school facilities for community use by:
  1. Collaborating with students, parents, and community organizations to identify the needs of students and families.
  2. Developing programming recommendations in response to community needs.
  3. Engaging potential partners, such as community based organizations and district agencies, to identify opportunities for collaboration.
  4. Supporting the identified partner organizations and providers through the application process.
  5. Developing a strategic plan for the school which outlines the roles and responsibilities of school staff, partner, and the community.
  6. Convening selected school staff, partners, and participating community members quarterly to discuss successes, problems, and provide updates on how to best continue the partnership.
  7. Communicating often across stakeholder groups to ensure a successful partnership.
  8. Advocating for changes in the community to help improve availability of safe recreation space for physical activity, health services, and food access.
  9. Integration of academic/learning opportunities into health and physical activity opportunities.
  10. Promoting ownership of the Wellness Center and Community Garden among students, parents, residents, and other stakeholders.

For More Information Contact:

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
Monica Acosta, Garden Program Manager
Tel: 213-572-0188 x208
315 W. 9th Street, Suite 1002
Los Angeles, CA 90015

UMMA Community Clinic
Jackie Provost, Director of Programs
Tel: (323) 967 - 0375 x. 1409
1704 W. Manchester Ave, Suite 211
Los Angeles, CA 90047

Fremont High School
Tel: (323) 565-1200
7676 S. San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90003

For information on joint use bond funding, please contact:

Los Angeles Unified School District
Asset Management Branch
Ana M. Lasso, Special Facilities Project Manager, Assoc. DBIA
Tel: 213-241-5892
333 S. Beaudry Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Facilities Services Division • 333 South Beaudry Ave. • Los Angeles, CA 90017
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