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Teen Researcher and Health Equity Advocate Aims to Bridge the Health Disparities in Her Community

 When Fatimah Amer was 13 years old, she recognized a serious need in her community that has turned into an entire movement.

"Before the pandemic, I would go with my mom at least once or twice a month and donate items to St. Mary's Food bank," Fatimah recalls. "But, we had to stop once the pandemic hit due to health and safety concerns. However, with the effects of the pandemic still exacerbating the quality of life for many, procuring food has now become increasingly difficult for most families. I knew I had to do something."

Fatimah also saw that when families had to stand for hours in line at food banks and pantries they were unable to care for their households financially, not only was it a huge opportunity cost, but many did not even receive the resources nutritious meals for their family, even after the wait. 

So she made a plan and reached out to local mom and pop shops and small businesses to help. 

And with that SPARKHope was born. 

SPARKHope is a non-profit initiative with a mission to mitigate the social determinants of health through advocacy, civic engagement, and political commitment to provide families in need and the youth with resources that everyone should have equal access too.

In the past year, 10,243 lbs of food have been delivered to food banks and pantries across the state, under the Food For Families program.  It has been so successful that the SPARKHope platform has expanded to include new programs and even a fellowship.  There are now programs addressing food insecurity, illiteracy, mental health struggles, and civic engagement, to name a few.  

Fatimah, now a 15-year-old high school sophomore, has done everything within her power to bolster her project, using personal funds, donations and grants to ensure that each program stays alive and well.

She feels honored "knowing teens, her age, have access to healthy meals on a regular basis.  I want to reach out to as many people as I can.  With the many impending adversaries in our society, no one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from," she shares. "Knowing I can play a small part in global efforts to reach zero hunger is gratifying." 

As word about the outreach circulates, more and more groups and teen volunteers are stepping up to help Fatimah with her mission.

"I am so incredibly grateful for all the support donors, partners, and volunteers have shown.  This means everything and gives us much needed resources to continue our mission to remedy health disparities in our state," Fatimah shares.

In fact her dedication and commitment to her city and state has landed her spot on the Scottsdale Mayor's Youth Council, where she works closely with Mayor Ortega to improve her community.

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Tags: mental health entrepreneur activist nonprofit HealthEquity social change FatimahAmer Arizona'sBrightest SPARKHope ceo teenadvocate


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