SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Keonna Yearwood was 350 pounds at the age of 16. She calls herself a kid that grew up in an impoverished neighborhood, in turmoil, and obese. She also lost two of her closest relatives and mentors to health problems.
Since her teen years, Keonna has lost over 100 pounds and turned her life around. She graduated from one of America’s finest culinary schools, Johnson and Wales in south Florida, becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college. She did it with a lot of help from family, friends and other chefs. She even won the Emeril Lagasse Scholarship, which paid for a year of her education and introduced her to the beloved chef.
Now, Chef Keonna has made it her mission to pay it back, and help her community eat healthier too. She’s just finishing the first four-part series of healthy cooking lessons aimed at low-income youth and families. Kids are paying attention and asking good questions. Their families are coming and bonding. And they’re all realizing that anyone can eat healthier, regardless of their budget.
The workshops are being run through the Good Life Youth Foundation, at Grace Episcopal Church near Syracuse University. They are sponsored by the Chuck Hafner Family, in memory of Linda Hafner, who spent a lifetime teaching Central New York about simple, fresh and healthy foods.
The first series of workshops is just wrapping up. But the effort is ongoing. Another cohort of four workshops will begin in October. Youth, parents and service providers who are interested in attending the second series can get more information at the Good Life Youth Foundation at (315) 443-8792.
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