How a New Bridge Rebuilt Community Trust and Pedestrian Safety

Cam Juarez didn’t want people to be disappointed, again. Years ago, a city project failed to deliver a promised new pedestrian bridge over a dangerous waterway in the Rose Neighborhood (92% Latino) in Tucson, Ariz. It would have improved walking and bicycling safety and connected people to a park and a nearby elementary school. Rose neighbors were skeptical when Juarez, then the coordinator for Pima County’s neighborhood reinvestment program, asked them to pitch ideas for fundable improvement projects. But Juarez bridged leader-resident trust—and replaced a pedestrian bridge that resembled the rickety old one in Indiana Jones with an amazing new bridge. The Dangerous Waterway Most times, the Rodeo Wash is dry. But during thunderstorms and rainy seasons, the ...

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Suicide Rates Rising: How This Public Health Crisis Affects Latinos

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Suicide rates have increased drastically across the United States from 1999-2016, according to a new report released by the CDC. Suicide rates are highest among White and Native American/Alaska Native populations. However, suicide rates for Latinos and African Americans are continually rising, the data shows. There were also significant increases in several states including Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Additionally, more than half the suicides in 2015 were among people with no known mental health conditions, according to an article in the Boston Globe. On the heels of two recent celebrity suicides - Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain - the “data are disturbing,” Anne Schuchat of the CDC told SCNow. “The widespread nature of the increase, in every state but ...

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Soccer Field Wars: Latino Neighbors Win a Fight to Play

Omar Gonzalez and many of his neighbors love playing nightly pick-up soccer games on the fields at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Gonzalez never expected to get kicked off the field. But that's what happened one night when a local sports league, which had mostly white players in uniforms, showed a permit they had paid to use the fields. They asked the neighbors to stop their game and leave. Gonzalez and his neighbors were confused. No one had ever used a permit to play there on weeknights. So they started a battle to allow open and fair usage of the fields. Sports and field use across the country After-school sports are great for building youth leaders and boosting health. However, Latino kids are less likely than ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 5/22: Healthy Minds & Hearts ❤ for National Physical Activity Month

May is National Physical Activity month. It's also National Mental Health Month!    Unfortunately, not all kids and families have access to safe places to play or services to promote healthy minds. While physical activity has numerous health benefits we often forget how important it is for promoting overall mental health and wellbeing. Some studies even show that having access to green space and physical activity programming can reduce stress levels, promote mental health and increase community resilience. Schools, workplaces, and communities all over can and should take action by promoting movement throughout the day this month and every day. On May 22, 2018 let’s use #SaludTues to chat about ways to boost physical activity and promote healthy minds in Latino ...

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How to “Green” Your Schoolyard

Nature-related projects have been gaining popularity on school campuses since the late 1990s. Environmental city planner, Sharon Danks, for example, has been working to transform asphalt lots into green schoolyards for 18 years. She is the Executive Director and Founder of Green Schoolyards America and in 2011, documented 150 green schoolyard projects from around the world in her book, Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation. Since then: Schools in Chicago teamed up with the city's water utilities to turn drab slabs into green schoolyards for students and families. Early learning centers across Texas are launching outdoor learning environments. Austin, Texas, started planning their first "green school park.” San Antonio, Texas started ...

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San Antonio Joins Effort to Connect Kids to Nature

Fewer than 40% of San Antonio residents are within a 10-minute walk of a park. Better local access to green spaces is critical, given that exposure to nature can boost children’s academic performance, physical activity and mental health. That’s why San Antonio has joined the Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative. The initiative, which started in 2016 as a pilot project to increase equitable access to nature in seven cities, expanded to include 11  more cities in 2018. As one of the 11, San Antonio will get 2.75 years of technical assistance and $75,000 in planning and implementation grants. But just how will San Antonio increase kids’ connection to nature? San Antonio Lacks Access to Parks Most of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, where inequitable ...

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Austin Solves ‘Nature Gaps’ with Green School Parks

Austin, Texas has many "nature gaps." In these areas, families lack parks for kids and families to play, which hinders their mental and physical health. Government and school officials in this 38% Latino city wanted to connect children with nature, which can boost students' academics and health. Their solution? "Green School Parks" that combine outdoor learning in nature during school time and act as a park for the community during out-of-school time. The Fist Step to Green School Parks More than two-dozen schools across Austin have shared use agreements that help fill the nature gap. In these agreements, schools open their schoolyards to the public after school and on weekends. But not all schools have green play areas—some are just asphalt. Fortunately, in ...

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Study: Green Spaces Boost Brain Development in Latino Kids

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Exposure to green spaces can boost brain development in school children, according to a new Spanish study with big implications for U.S. Latino children who lack access to parks where they live. The new study, which links long-term exposure to green spaces to enhanced cognitive function in Spanish children, was led by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Researchers used MRIs and computerized tests to note children's working memory and inattentiveness every three months. They discovered children who grew up in homes surrounded by green space showed greater activity in the regions of their brain linked with learning. They also showed better ability to engage with others. Children near green space also showed lower levels of ...

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Sweat Equity: How to Get Fit and Volunteer at the Same Time!

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Paul Rezaei loved being physically active as a kid, so much so that he became a personal trainer and has helped people get fit in San Antonio for 10 years. One day, as Rezaei watched people spend energy to jog on treadmills and move weights, he had a revelation: "Can't we do this [work out] while doing something positive for the community?" Rezaei wanted to host events where people could work out—and at the same time serve as volunteers to create gardens, help at-risk families, and improve the community. How could he make it happen? Physical Inactivity and the Need for Healthy Spaces Rezaei, a trainer at Life Time Fitness, sees many people in San Antonio (67% Latino) struggle to get the recommended daily physical activity. More than half of adults here are obese or ...

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