Four teens from Eatonville participated in a panel discussion in late April, moderated by Stewart Moore, an anchor at WESH TV2. Two seniors, a junior and a freshman, all students at Edgewater High School, and all long-time residents of Eatonville, shared their thoughts and opinions on the challenges of living a healthy lifestyle in Eatonville – and, at the same time, expressed why they loved their small town.
“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, which fosters a feeling of being connected among residents, was one of the things they loved most about Eatonville.
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 farmers 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 are headed to college in the fall – Morehouse and Rollins College. All were articulate, passionate and said 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.