Editor’s note: This is part of a series of collaborations with Las Fotos Project, an Eastside-based organization that inspires teenage girls through photography, mentorship, and self-expression. 

‘Con Safos’ is a visual documentation project in which members of Las Fotos Project’s Digital Promotoras program use photojournalism and multimedia techniques to promote awareness of disparities and stigmas facing their communities. These stories address  key issues such as gentrification, access to green spaces, security, physical wellbeing, and punitive school measures.

See other stories and read about the Con Safos project here.

My project focuses on how community running groups bridge gaps between low levels of physical activity in the East Los Angeles Community.

Evergreen Cemetery

Residents of Boyle Heights and East LA leave their blood, sweat, and tears at the Evergreen Cemetery, the most iconic running spot in the area. A 1.4-mile-long jogging path, it paves a path for runners of all ages, races, and creeds to run alongside the historic tombstones that carry the multi-cultural history of the city of Los Angeles.

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“Running is healing and challenging yet transformative.” 

Jo Ana Ley is a co-founder of the Running Mammies group. She organizes bi-monthly runs for moms and their “bebés,” and organizes additional activities for them.

Ley started running after ending a toxic relationship in college. She felt challenged and liberated in the space, and, in her own words, got the “mosquito bite itch” to continue running. After years of enjoying running independently, she involved herself in community organizations to address the lack of safe space for women to run.

Running Mammies empowers active moms to step out of their daily lives filled with responsibilities and to leave their energy out on the streets. The first of its kind in the area, this running group sets aside time and safe space for moms to run in comfort and with the community.

Mariachi Plaza

Mariachi Plaza is located in the heart of Boyle Heights and offers its space to several running groups, including Running Mammies, the Boyle Heights Bridge Runners, and East Los Angeles Runners. In contrast to the Evergreen Cemetery, this running space offers vibrant colors and culturally-relevant murals that offer a sense of warmth.

Community Resources are available, with activities such as the yearly Boyle Heights 5K Run.

Hundreds of runners took to the 1st Street and Mariachi Plaza of Boyle Heights.

Nike Community Shop

Nike’s community shop, located in East LA, organizes a running campaign that brings families together to run miles together. By having such a prominent company in the community encouraging people to exercise, people are made aware of the plentiful resources that  surround them.

Between the organized running groups, community resources, and allocated safe spaces, communities are empowered to break the cycle of poor health and pursue healthier lifestyles.

“There is beauty in every step taken.” 

 Jo Ana Ley

Take a look at this story on its Spark page.





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