Meet the newest members of the Cal Walks team: Yesenia Ocampo
Over the past few weeks, each of our three new team members have introduced themselves to you here. This week, meet Yesenia Ocampo, our Central Valley Programs Manager, based in Bakersfield.
Both my upbringing and professional experience have shaped the person that I am today. I’m originally from Wasco, California, a small, rural, farm worker community in Kern County. From a young age, I felt a calling for social justice and community health. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Sociology, while also pursuing nursing. Upon graduation, I worked with children, youth, and their families as a Recovery Coordinator with College Community Services, and then as Youth Health Services Manager with Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center.
Most recently, I worked with the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) as a Health Policy Manager in partnership with Cultiva La Salud to implement the REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) grant. I had the opportunity to work with Arvin residents and the Arvin City Council to draft and adopt the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Resolution. The HEAL resolution emphasizes language that ensures the city will embrace policies that facilitate activities to promote healthier lifestyles and communities, including the adoption of city design and planning necessary for walking and biking.
In addition to working with the City of Arvin, we worked closely with the Arvin Union School District to revamp the district’s Wellness Policy. As a result, the Wellness Policy added language “encouraging students to walk or bicycle to and from school” while also adding language supporting joint-use agreements and Farm to School. These policy changes prompted DHF to establish a Bike Volunteer Program in partnership with Bike Bakersfield/Bike Arvin, after DHF received a large bike donation. The Bike Volunteer Program enables residents who volunteer to earn a bike.
I’m very excited to work with California Walks, and to continue to build upon the work I’ve become committed to active transportation with health equity at the core. My background and experience in this work has reinforced to me that the health disparities in our communities are real and there is nothing wrong with wanting to make improvements, especially when community residents and youth are leading the way to improve their communities. What guides me is heart and community.