Fitness Instructor Helps Launch La Casita Fitness and Learning Center



Westwood Unidos and Re:Vision, two local organizations in the Westwood neighborhood of Denver, Colo. (31.2% Latino population) were already working to make the area a healthier place for families. Westwood Unidos organized local community members, like Fany Mendez, to teach fitness classes in their spare time wherever they could, such as schools, churches, and even bars. When Westwood Unidos learned about a small building that was going to be torn down on a piece of land recently purchased by Re:Vision, Westwood Unidos raised the money to transform the building into a community center named La Casita, with educational and physical activity classes taught by Mendez and local community members. Westwood Families Not Active Enough Fany Mendez, before she became the Coordinator of La Casita ...

Read More

Connecting Latino Families to Local Produce



College friends Tori Ostenso and Emily Pence met through volunteer opportunities while in school and found out that there was a need for immigrant families to have more access to fresh produce in Rice County, Minn. (about 8% Latino population). The two students started a mobile market and eventually began a weekly program to help Latino and other families have greater access to an affordable bag full of fresh local organic vegetables. EMERGENCE Awareness: Victoria (Tori) Ostenso became keenly aware of the bounty of healthy fresh produce grown in Northfield, Minn (8.4% Latino) while working at Carleton College’s two-acre organic vegetable farm in summer 2012 after her freshman year at the school. Ostenso and her friend, Emily Pence, had even started a “gleaning” program at the ...

Read More

Future Generations Learn Healthy Eating Through Teaching Kitchens



In the San Antonio, Texas area (69% Latino) families, health care leaders like Dr. Mark Gilger, and philanthropy groups like the Goldsbury Foundation are exploring what healthy and culturally fun Latino meals look like with the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio’s new Culinary Health Education for Families (CHEF) program. Aiming to be a new culinary health model for families needing help in preventing diet-related disease such as childhood diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, the goal of the program is to provide San Antonio residents with tools, resources, and education to lead healthier lives and encourage healthy weights for children. EMERGENCE Awareness/Learn:  Dr. Mark Gilger, pediatrician-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, has seen first-hand a local and ...

Read More

Community Connectors Break Down Barriers to Healthy Homes


promotora promotores

San Antonio’s Eastside Promise Neighborhood (EPN) is a community of about 18,000 residents (67.5% Latino) who face many health disparities driven by socioeconomic inequities in income, education and access to health care. Noemi Villarreal and others at EPN sought ways to improve health care and health equity in the area. To do that, they looked for ways to promote the idea of the “medical home,” in which the patient/family is the center of partnerships with primary care providers, specialists, educational resources, and the entire community. They formed a group of dedicated "Community Connectors" to travel the neighborhood and do whatever was necessary to promote development of a medical home for every home. Addressing issues in San Antonio Noemi Villarreal, health and ...

Read More

MEDA Creates 100% Affordable Housing for San Francisco Residents



San Francisco’s Mission District (30% Latino) is one that is steeped in history and has long been the hub for the city’s immigrant population. As the city has evolved as part of the technology boom, many Latino families have found themselves “priced out” of homes they have lived in for decades. Luis Granados, Christopher Gil, and other leaders of the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), a longstanding non-profit organization in the area, have stepped in to help many of these families keep their home and their neighborhood with a new effort to create 100% affordable housing in the area. The rising housing costs in San Francisco Since 1973, the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) offers free financial services to lower-income families in San Francisco’s Mission ...

Read More

Promotoras Create Healthy Change One Resident at a Time



Obesity, cancer, and health disparities were increasing in the northern Colorado city of Fort Collins (11.43% Latino). In response, a community advocacy group called Vida Sana formed to find ways to alleviate these disparities and support Latino residents. Dierdre Sullivan, a founding member of Vida Sana, soon recognized the best way to boost health was to use promotoras (community health workers) to teach residents how to help themselves. Latinos struggle with health disparities in Colorado Dierdre Sullivan, an activist in Fort Collins, Colo., has witnessed the local Latino population grow rapidly by 52% from 2000 to 2010. Sullivan said health disparities increased rapidly, too. About 14% of Latinos live in poverty. Many healthcare providers lack cultural ...

Read More

Colorado School’s Apple Orchard Infuses Fresh Fruit into School Cafeterias, Farmer’s Markets



Montezuma County (12.2 % Latino) was once well known for its blooming apple orchards. Back in 1904, three Gold Medals were awarded to the county at the St. Louis World’s Fair. But for years, these fresh apples weren’t always available to kids at local schools. Now, with the help of farm-to-school activists like Sarah Syverson and other groups, Cortez Middle School is growing a garden and an entire apple orchard to bring new fresh foods to local school cafeterias and to the school’s farmers market. EMERGENCE Awareness: Sarah Syverson, director of the Montezuma School to Farm Project (MSTFP) in Montezuma County, Colo., was proud of the school garden at Cortez Middle School (CMS). Established in 2013 the schools garden was a place where education and healthy food access went ...

Read More

Water Promoter Helps Parents Avoid Sugary Drinks



Gaby Medina, a mom and health educator in the neighborhood of Westwood, in Denver, Colo. (79.36%), didn’t have a lot of faith in the safety of local tap water when she arrived here from Mexico. Much of Denver's foreign-born population similarly distrust the safety of tap water. However, Gaby eventually learned to trust the water. She then took a big step to make sure her family, friends, and fellow Latino residents across the community understand that tap water is far safer, healthier, and more affordable than sugary drinks. Is tap water safe? Gabriela “Gaby” Medina is your average Latina mom who wants to help her 10-year-old daughter and her family live happy, healthy lives. In Mexico, tap water is not always safe to drink. “Initially, yes, I was hesitant ...

Read More

University Workers Drive Policy to Support Breastfeeding on Campus



Alena Clark and Yvette Lucero-Nguyen worried that their University of Northern Colorado campus wasn’t breastfeeding-friendly for employees or students. So they worked with faculty, staff, and students to increase awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding. They coordinated with different departments on campus to establish three Lactation Stations to provide breastfeeding parents a private, comfortable place to express breast milk or breastfeed. They also drafted an institution-wide written policy for breastfeeding support to protect employees and students. University Employees and Students Without Breastfeeding Privacy In spring 2011, Alena Clark, Nutrition and Dietetics Associate Professor at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), where about 18% of undergraduates ...

Read More

Agency’s Legal Aids Brings Hope, Stress Relief for Florida Latinos



Many Latino immigrants arrive in Broward County, Fla. (27% Latino) with no community ties, no possessions, no (or little) money, and no prospects for employment. Aside from the everyday challenges of facing this scenario, they also often face legal questions or citizenship matters. That’s why Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) was founded to offer free legal aid to low-income families in their most troubling times, to relieve stress and, in turn, improve people’s health and quality of life. Magaly Alvarado, a program manager with HUF, knew that she and her organization could and should do more to help their community. Latino immigrants & toxic stress Broward County, Fla., is home to a diverse immigrant population as it has become a hub for many Latin American and Caribbean ...

Read More