Celebrate Midtown Youth 2015: An interactive neighborhood affair of the garden variety

BY MARCY PALMERI, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG – Residents from all around the city came out to Celebrate Midtown Youth, a free community event, Sat., Jan. 31.

The outdoor health fair and healthy fun day for the whole family was presented by Jordan Park Community Gardens and Local Food Park, hosted by The Deuces Live Main Street, and coordinated with neighborhood businesses and organizations.

The “Jordan Park Gardens is a project we started through Local Food Park and is directed by Annette Hubbard. She loves to be in the garden with the kids and has done a phenomenal job,” said Carol Smith, CEO of Local Food Park.

This outdoor family-friendly health fair had more than a little flair. The day delivered a combination of healthy food, interactive games, activities and entertainment and brought together over 350 people.

Most of the entertainers were straight out of Midtown. The Mime Boys from Mt. Zion Kingdom, Kali Kali dancers, John Hopkins School of the Arts and Sciences Dance Group and Gibbs High School ensemble were among those who exemplified what this day was all about.

The list of attendees, volunteers and exhibitors were nothing short of spectacular, with focus on the children and bringing the community together.

There were 38 exhibitors that included All Children’s Hospital and GTE Federal Credit Union. Activities for the children included music and dancing, K9 Dog demonstration, face painting a petting zoo and samplings from the garden.

The, “I am Somebody,” banner was a hit. The activity consisted of essays and artwork. Every six feet of decorated paper was torn off and displayed with honor. The banner encouraged interaction for people of all ages. People spoke about what the saying meant to them.

Carl Lavender, community activist and CEO of Quantum Management Resources, LLC was there to lend a hand. “The Midtown Youth Celebration was a great event. The day was well organized and very well attended. The event represented lots of organizations ‘playing well in the sandbox.’”

“It was a collaboration between various groups. There was such an aura of happiness and interaction,” Hubbard added.

While at the event, she conversed with a longtime Midtown resident who said there were so many faces she’d never seen before.

She went on to list some of the groups who showed interactive support. Jordan Park Gardens, Job Corp, Ameri Corp, Youth Build, The Boys and Girls Club and more.

Hubbard proudly boasted of her garden projects that are currently in the works that promises to tighten the gap between sustainability and sense of community. “The community as a whole will benefit.” One such project is located in an alley behind 22nd Street South.

The garden projects are larger than life and they expect the idea and the fruits of their labor to take off and become an integral part of Midtown.

Local Food Park is a catalyst for food-centered community building, research, education, training, entertainment and economic stimulus. “None of this would be possible without a grant from Bon Secours, a Healthy Communities Initiative,” Smith insisted. Smith is the one who wrote the grant and immediately began breaking ground.

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