The Bigger Picture

Our mission is to end Type 2 diabetes in young people. The Bigger Picture is a collaboration between Youth Speaks, and the University of California, San Francisco Center for Vulnerable Populations designed to combat the rising epidemic of Type 2 diabetes by empowering youth to change the conversation about the disease, and work to change the social and environmental factors that have led to its spread.

The Bigger Picture In Action

The Bigger Picture Campaign Videos

The Bigger Picture aims to inspire young people to join the conversation about Type 2 diabetes and work to change the systems that lead to its spread. Watch our award winning videos below featuring young people from across the Bay Area speaking on how environmental factors like accessibility to affordable healthy food, predatory marketing, safety, and more have affected them personally and need to change.

1. Block O Breakfast

Robin Black and The Bigger Picture Poets mock the food Industries use of deceptive marketing to trick people, especially youth, into eating unhealthy foods.

2. Hear No

Joshua Merchant tells a personal story about his fathers relationship to Type 2 diabetes, and its impact on family, and his own future.

3. Pushin’ Weight

Simone Bridges (MC Nina Seraphina) uses rap to illustrate the metaphorical connection between the Food Industry, High Sugar foods and the pedaling of street narcotics.

4. The Corner

Jose Vadi illustrates the choice people make and questions whether or not we are actually making a choice or whether choices about what to eat are made for us by forces beyond our control.

5. Farm Living

Robin Black discusses the way in which people are farmed by being fed industrialized food. This punishing monologue provides insight into the relationship between the food industry and sickness.

6. Sole Mate

Jose Vadi explores how dependent we all are on our feet and asks the question what would we do if we lost all or part of one? Caution: This video contains very strong images.


7. Product of His Environment

Joshua Merchant explores the social and economic factors that contribute to the Type 2 diabetes epidemic in low income communities of color. Caution: This video contains images of violence.


“We eat like we still slaves
Back in the day we ate what whites didn’t want
now we got something called freedom to eat…”

9. Health Justice Manifesto

Jade Cho leads The Bigger Picture Poets in a collective pledge of commitment to ending this epidemic and challenging the systems and institutions that support its growth and spread.

10. Lost in Translation

“These foods we trust to give us nourishment
are slowing killing us
a sweet venom que corre por nuestras venas…”

11. A Taste of Home

“We think this possibility can’t hurt us
even though we can’t read the ingredients on the label,
forget that home…”

12. Quantum Field

Poet Tele’ Jon Quinn tells us the story of a young man doing all of the right things in the wrong world and how he is shunned for living a healthy life.

13. Countdown

QueenNefertiti Shabazz created a piece that talks about how stress leads us to make bad decisions that affect our health and in turn our ability to function.

14. Targets

“My classmates and I
were all unintentionally killing ourselves at 13
Targets, guzzling down a soda…”

15. Perfect Soldiers

“But don’t you know we are still at war with a country that wants us dead?
How us children of Panama and America learn early
to walk softly and carry a big stick…”

16. Thin Line

Watch Ivori Holson outline the harmful effects of a sugary drink diet in “Thin Line” written and performed by Ivori for The Bigger Picture project, a collaboration between Youth Speaks and UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations.

17. Purest Poison

If Type 2 diabetes could speak, what would she say? Find out in “Purest Poison” written by Joshua Merchant and performed by Joyce Lee. Directed by Jamie DeWolf. WARNING: Graphic Images.

18. Chocolate Smile

“They won’t tell you
how her smile was corrupted
by blue slushies and black licorice…”

19. By ANy Sweets Necessary

Sacramento-based MC Luke Tailor’s addictive diet follows him everywhere he goes – in school, at the park, even the emergency room – but what Luke doesn’t know is how such an unhealthy high-sugar diet can lead to serious chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes.

20. Candy Man

Youth Speaks’ Bay Area MC Olympic champion Frak stars in this amazing new music video “Candy Man” for the Bigger Picture Project. From the block to the corporate office, watch Frak play the role of the seductive drug peddler pushing addictive sugary diets onto any “low-income teen” crossing his path.

21. I Speak for the People

Watch poets/activists Donte Clark and Deandre Evans speak for the people of Richmond, California in this newly edited version of “I Speak for the People” for the Bigger Picture.

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50 years ago, the average American consumed about 20 lbs of sugar and corn sweetener in a year. That number has risen to almost 130 lbs.

1 in 3 youth overall are projected to contract Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime... unless we do something about it.

The food and beverage industry spends almost $12 billion a year ($1 million every hour of everyday) targeting young people to buy unhealthy food and drinks.


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Nearly 1 in 2 youth of color born after the year 2000 will get type 2 diabetes in their lifetime… unless we do something about it.

Spread the Word

One of the most powerful things you can do is share the campaign and change the conversation. Share the videos, talk about the facts, and book The Bigger Picture today to make an impact in your community.

Take Action

Type 2 diabetes is a rising epidemic, but our bodies haven’t changed – our environments have. What will you do to combat environmental factors and end this preventable disease?


When you donate to The Bigger Picture, it allows the campaign to spread throughout California by funding poets, filmmakers, public health advocates, and more to dream and create compelling short films, performances, props, and more to end Type 2 diabetes.

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture