Happiness is…Growing Up in a Town They Love

Kids Share Views on Health and Life in Eatonville

Four teens from Eatonville recently participated in a panel discussion moderaIMG_4497ted by Stewart Moore, an anchor at WESH TV 2.  Two seniors, a junior and a freshman, all students at Edgewater High School, and all long-time residents of Eatonville, shared their thoughts on the challenges of living a healthy lifestyle in Eatonville – and at the same time why they loved their small town and how it made them happy.

“Everybody knows everybody,” said Briana Joyner, a 17-year-old senior at Edgewater.  “It’s like a big family.”  Others echoed that the small town feel and how everyone was connected was one of the things they loved most about Eatonville.IMG_4489

Ranging in age from 14 to 18, the four teens talked about health, life, stress, the need for more jobs for teens in Eatonville – and the challenges to living a healthy lifestyle in the town with less than 2,000 residents.  “We need a farmer’s market or a grocery store,” said Anthony, in response to Moore’s question about the challenges to eating healthy in the town.  He added, “You have to go outside of town to get a healthy meal.”

When a fifth grader from Hungerford Elementary School asked the group, “What one word describes Eatonville to you?”  The answers included “legacy, history, family and community.” As the oldest incorporated African American town in the United States, those words were very fitting to describe Eatonville.

More than 50 residents, including parents, teachers, siblings and friends turned out for this Youth Forum, organized by the Healthy Eatonville Team, part of Healthy Central Florida, a community-based partnership founded by the Winter Park Health Foundation and Florida Hospital.  The audience participated in the question and answer session that followed and many praised the students for representing the town so well.

Two of the seniors were headed to college next fall – Morehouse and Rollins College. All were articulate, passionate and said that they definitely plan to come back home to Eatonville to raise their families. Eatonville’s future is in good hands with young people like these.  This intimate evening of dialogue left everyone with a smile on their face.