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Youth Speaks and the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations Put the Spotlight on Big Sugar with the Bigger Picture Campaign

Starting today, young Californian poets will exhibit four short films personally exploring the Type 2 diabetes epidemic’s social and structural roots


Youth Speaks, the country’s leading spoken word and literary arts organization for young people, today announces the release of four short films created in partnership with the Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP) at UC San Francisco. Designed to spark conversations and awareness of Type 2 diabetes’ prevalence among the most vulnerable people in our society, the films are made by young Californian poets and available to stream at

“The Bigger Picture brings poets and health professionals together to change the conversation about Type 2 diabetes,” says Natasha Huey, who manages The Bigger Picture Campaign. “Our young poets are challenging us to take a look at ‘the bigger picture’ behind statistics that project shorter, more painful lives for young people and demand healthy environments that eliminate this preventable disease. They are expanding the conversation to include their stories of farmworkers who can’t afford the food they cultivate, parents who consume sugar-laden energy drinks to get through double shifts, families who offer sugar and fast food as an affordable act of love, and immigrant mothers who develop diabetes while pregnant.”

 One in two young people of color born after the year 2000 will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime and The Bigger Picture is designed to place young people at the center of the conversation about this crisis. The two organizations worked with youth development groups across California, including With Our Words (Stockton), Get Lit (Pomona), Say Word (Los Angeles), and the film production company Jamie DeWolf, to create the films.

In Empty Plate, poet Anthony Orosco from Stockton provides a vivid personal perspective on food insecurity among farm works in the San Joaquin Valley (one of California’s leading harvester of produce that faces both food insecurity and is experiencing a Type 2 diabetes epidemic):

“Abuelas y abuelos, tias, tios, primos y hermanos who picked, processed, and packed the produce that pockets couldn’t afford to begin with. Backs breaking, bones aching--harvesting healthy fruits and veggies the bounty of California bread basket that almost never blessed the table of farm workers families,” expressed Orosco. “When I was 13 my belly was a clenched fist protesting days without a proper meal. Couch cushion diving trying to find enough change a boy with no job possibly could.”

The short films debut on Valentine’s Day and include:

“Empty Plate”

Written and performed by Anthony Orosco from With Our Words in Stockton, CA.

“The Longest Mile”

Written and performed by Tassiana Willis, Youth Speaks, alumna based in Oakland, CA.


Written and performed by Liliana Perez and Rose Bergmann from Say Word in Pomona, CA.

“Big Boy”

Written and performed by Edgar Tumbokon from Get Lit in Los Angeles, CA.

Visit The Bigger Picture

About Youth Speaks:
Founded in 1996, Youth Speaks is one of the world’s leading presenter of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs. Youth Speaks has long championed a national and increasingly global movement of young people stepping proudly onto stages, declaring themselves present.

About UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations:
The UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP) at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center is dedicated to improving health and reducing disparities through discovery, innovation, policy, advocacy, and community partnerships. The CVP seeks to develop effective strategies to prevent and treat chronic diseases in communities most at risk.


 Type 2 diabetes
 Youth poet

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