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Teen from southwest Fresno wants more parks, clean air for her part of town

Teen from southwest Fresno wants more parks, clean air for her part of town

Southwest Fresno is a unique place. Here there is a deep sense of community and pride. Within this community are caring, kind, and resilient people. This resilience is due to the community lacking the city support it deserves.

We can see this manifest in issues such as high rates of unhoused people and violence. In spite of all this, the people of southwest Fresno persevere and continue to hope for a better tomorrow. As a student in the Edison High region, I too have this hope.

Being a Gaston Bengal and then becoming an Edison Tiger has been a five-year journey. I attended Gaston Middle School, and now Edison High School, both located in southwest Fresno. Edison High is so broad and diverse, it’s hard to think about how to describe my school. Edison nurtures its students by providing them with teachers and staff who want to see them succeed. It is a place to build long-lasting friendships, and one that gives opportunities for students to grow.

These opportunities include community-based field trips, networking with influential leaders, and providing students the resources they need. Many students are reliant upon the necessities that the school provides, such as food services, student clothing, social emotional support, and much more. For those that have attended Edison, we continue to build upon the legacy of what it means to be a tiger.

Though Edison High is a great place to learn and connect with peers, it is not exempt to having flaws.

Within the last year or so, Edison experienced an increase of violent acts, whether that be gang-related fights, active shooter threats or physical and verbal assault. There is no one easy way to stop this violence unless we take collective action as a community and school site. The community shows its unconditional support for Edison through outlets such as sports games and school-sanctioned events. But does Edison reciprocate the same support toward its community?

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Making sure that the people of southwest Fresno have a place at Edison High can positively impact its students and neighborhood. Edison creating a space where students feel safe and are allowed to express their feelings or distress may decrease violence. Edison owes its students safety, and that safety should not start and stop when the school bell rings.

In southwest Fresno, there are many areas in need of improvement. The 178,000 residents living here only have access to one grocery store. There are more liquor stores and smoke shops here. There are no walking trails . It can be extremely difficult for people to access fresh fruits and vegetables. According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, the 93706 area has the worst pollution in the state. The lack of accessibility to necessities shows how valued are the people in southwest Fresno. This leaves its community members with questions about their worth. When the community surrounding the school is suffering, how do we expect our students to thrive?

Now we must act and move on to the next step. But what is that step? In our community, implementing things such as walking trails, community gardens, and accessible grocery stores will help southwest Fresno progress into a better future.

The over-industrialization of the southwest must be stopped for its community members to get the clean air they deserve.

In our schools, we must give students the space to feel their emotions fully, as they may not be safe to do that elsewhere.

Through doing things such as normalizing and prioritizing the mental health of our students, we may begin to see improvement.

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Isabella Garcia is entering her senior year at Edison High. She has been active with the Black Student Unions at Gaston Middle and Edison High.

  • June 25, 2023