11 Real Ways to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month


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Hispanic Heritage Month is here!

This annual U.S. observance, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

We at Salud America! invite you to think outside the box and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in these awesome ways.

1. Find Out How Hispanic Heritage Month Started

U.S. Congressmen Edward R. Roybal of Los Angeles and Henry B. Gonzales were among those who introduced legislation on the topic in 1968.

hispanic heritage month week proclamation from LBJ
President Johnson’s Proclamation 3869, National Hispanic Heritage Week, 1968. (Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives)

President Lyndon Johnson implemented the observance as Hispanic Heritage Week that year.

U.S. Rep. Esteban E. Torres of Pico Rivera proposed the observance be expanded to cover its current 30-day period. President Ronald Reagan implemented the expansion to Hispanic Heritage Month.

It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

2. Find Out Why Hispanic Heritage Month Starts on Sept. 15

Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.

In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18.

Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, falls within the 30-day period of Hispanic Heritage Month.

3. Subscribe to the Only Latino Health Equity Podcast!

The “Salud Talks” podcast, the latest venture from Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, is now live!

SaludTalks podcastEach week, listeners will hear from health equity experts—from grassroots movements to national organizations—on topics ranging from cultural representation, climate change, childhood trauma, mental health, and more.

Episodes of “Salud Talks” are released every Wednesday morning.

Each episode is available wherever fine podcasts are downloaded, including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and SoundCloud.

4. Make Air, Lungs Safer for Latinos and All People

The FDA recently announced a rule proposal to add a graphic visual representation of the harms of smoking impacts to those buying cigarettes — health warning labels on every pack.

FDA Proposes New Required Graphic Health Warnings For Cigarette Packages hispanic heritage monthThese labels will convey relevant information about the negative health consequences of smoking through pictures of various illnesses that cigarettes can cause.

“With these new proposed cigarette health warnings, we have an enormous public health opportunity to fulfill our statutory mandate and increase the public’s understanding of the full scope of serious negative health consequences of cigarette smoking,” Dr. Ned Sharpless, Acting FDA Commissioner, said in a statement.

Submit your comment on the warning labels by the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month (Oct. 15, 2019)!


5. Start ‘Handle With Care’ So Police Alert Schools if Kids Are Exposed to Trauma!

60% of U.S. children have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse.

These kids still have to go to class. They carry a burden of trauma that can interfere with their behavior and grades. And schools don’t know there’s an issue at home.

Handle With Care police school traumaEnter “Handle With Care.”

Download the free Salud America!Handle With Care Action Pack” to start a Handle With Care program. In the program, police notify schools when they encounter children at a traumatic scene, so schools can provide support right away.

The Action Pack contains materials and technical assistance to start a conversation and plans for implementing a Handle With Care program. Over 65 U.S. cities have started such a program.

The Action Pack was created by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Salud America! Latino health equity program at UT Health San Antonio, with help from Andrea Darr, director of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice, which started the first Handle With Care program in 2013.


6. Start a School Food Pantry!

About 1 in 6 children are food insecure. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Your school can help these kids!

roadrunner food pantryFor Hispanic Heritage Month, try the Salud America! “School Food Pantry Action Pack” is a free guide to help school personnel talk to decision-makers, work through logistics, and start a School Food Pantry to help hungry students and reduce local food insecurity.

A School Food Pantry accepts, stores, and redistributes donated and leftover food to students.

The Action Pack was created by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.

Dr. Ramirez had input from Jenny Arredondo, nutrition director at San Antonio ISD. Arredondo started school food pantries on 10 campuses in 2017-18, based on a Texas law change led by Diego Bernal.


7. Create a Trauma-Sensitive School!

The new Salud America! “Trauma Sensitive School Action Pack” is a free guide with coaching to help school personnel talk to decision-makers, build a support team, craft a system to identify and support traumatized students, and more!


8. Check Out a Great Group Fighting for Immigrant Rights

In Broward County, Fla. (27% Latino), immigrants have little money, healthcare, and social support.

Members of Hispanic Unity of Florida hispanic heritage month
Members of Hispanic Unity of Florida

Hispanic Unity of Florida is an immigrant advocacy group that works to reverse these problematic social issues.

They work to empower immigrants to become self-sufficient, productive, and civically engaged.

They also connect them with legal support and healthcare resources.

During each Obamacare Open Enrollment cycle, Hispanic Unity of Florida holds bilingual healthcare registration events. They offer appointments with trained, bilingual application counselors at their headquarters.

That’s a Hispanic Heritage Month hero, for sure!

9. Get Outside and Garden!

Caesar Valdillez loves where he lives—the Southtown neighborhood in San Antonio (63% Latino).

Valdillez grew up in the neighborhood and even moved back after he finished college, hoping to meet like-minded environmentalists to improve the neighborhood and sustain it for many years to come.

Caesar Valdillez southtown community garden san antonioBut he noticed Southtown lacked the healthy food options it needed to be a truly healthy community.

“Our neighborhood does not have any reasonable grocery store in the area, especially with fresh produce and herbs,” he said.

Valdillez decided to help.

He worked with neighbors and the city to start a local garden!

For Valdillez and his neighbors, it’s all about making their community better for everyone.

“Urban gardening is our grassroots way of making a difference in the world, one preserved green space at a time,” Valdillez said.

10. Think “Water Bottle Fountains”

Water Bottle Fountains are filtered water dispensers for easily filling and refilling water bottles.

Water Bottle Fountains give kids much-needed access to safe drinking water throughout the school day.

They also help keep kids hydrated while saving families money from buying bottled water. They help the environment by reducing waste.

Salud America! wants to help you get Water Bottle Fountains at your school with our custom-for-you Water Bottle Fountain Action Pack with Coaching!


11. Volunteer for Your Comunidad!

Kindness counts.

Helping people is good. And it also helps you, too.

diverse group volunteering for environmental clean up hispanic heritage month“Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable increase in wellbeing [for the doer] of any exercise we’ve tested,” said Dr. Martin Seligman of Penn’s Positive Psychology Center.

A national survey of 3,351 adults found that the overwhelming majority of participants reported feeling mentally and physically healthier after a volunteer experience, HuffPost reports.

“Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression,” said Stephanie Watson of the Harvard Health Blog. “A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.”

So help out your fellow neighbors this Hispanic Heritage Month!

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