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Every Little Step Counts for Latino Child Health

Yolanda Konopken knows 1 in 10 people have diabetes in Arizona. Her program to help families manage diabetes has been at full capacity for years at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix (41.3% Latino population). Konopken wanted to do more to prevent unhealthy weight from causing diabetes in younger children. She had an idea to start a new, bilingual education program to provide support and counseling for families with children at risk of diabetes. She worked hard to develop a bilingual curriculum and launch a fun program that involves the whole family in a series of culturally relevant classes to build children’s self-esteem and positive lifestyle behaviors, such as cooking healthier foods and getting active. The Crisis of Obesity in Arizona Arizona has the ...

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Clinic Leaders Add Mental Health, Coaching to Primary Care

dentist latina oral care x-ray

For 30 years, a group of small community health centers have provided primary healthcare to residents in Maricopa County, Ariz. (30% Latino population). A few years ago, center leaders Dr. Avein Saaty Tafoya and Lisa Blue recognized that local residents continued to face cultural, language, financial, and other barriers to proper comprehensive healthcare. They felt compelled to change the entire approach of their centers. Adelante Healthcare began to seek grants and partnerships to add personnel to expand beyond their historical focus on primary care. Today their new team—primary care physicians, specialists, bilingual health coaches, mental and behavioral health social workers, and others who connect families to insurance, health education, and more—provides more ...

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Parents Help Save Pool in Low-Income Minneapolis Area

pool saved hannah lieder minneapolis phillips pool

Hannah Lieder, foster mother and founder of Minneapolis Swims, has been working since 2010 to keep open the local Phillips Pool in a disadvantaged neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minn. Why? Lieder knows that children living in low-income, Latino, or minority neighborhoods have historically lacked convenient access to physical activity spaces, particularly swimming pools, compared to white or high-income neighborhoods. These social and environmental inequalities contribute to disparities in drowning rates, physical activity levels, health outcomes and academic achievement. Phillips Pool was in disrepair and under constant threat to be concreted over. Now, six years later, Lieder’s legacy lives on, through Denny Bennett, as crews will break ground on the Phillips Aquatics ...

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Stephen Lucke Grows Gardens of Wellness in San Antonio

Stephen Lucke's life forever when he took a college nutrition class. Lucke, an aspiring doctor who was studying biochemistry at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas (63% Latino) a few years ago, realized that healthy food could help stop people from getting sick in the first place. He was so motivated to help that he immediately helped start a campus wellness program in 2011. He helped start a fruit and vegetable garden on campus a few months later. “I just really became educated about the obesity epidemic,” Lucke said. “You know San Antonio was the most obese city in 2007.” Food Access Needed in San Antonio As he worked to maintain gardens on the UIW campus, Lucke began to realize a severe lack of community gardens and a lack of garden ...

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School Dietician Uses Student Videos to Give Health a Starring Role

Barbara Berger was more than concerned—she was downright worried about the growing weight and health of her students. The school dietitian in Las Cruces, NM (67.1% Latino population), found it hard to promote healthy eating and physical activity to her teenaged students. That was, until she let students do it themselves in a way that would engage students in a fun, creative story-telling experience. Through the use of creative films and videos, Berger found that the students were not only able to help solve real-world health problems, they had fun and gained valuable life-skills while doing it. Opening Credits: A Video Idea to Help Middle-Schoolers Barbara Berger has been involved with health and nutrition education since 2012 for the Las Cruces Public School ...

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Water Champions Push H2O for Latino Kids, Families

Water isn't magic, but it can help you stay hydrated, control calories, and fuel muscles. But Latino kids don't drink enough water. In fact, Latino kids drink less plain water and more sugary drinks than white kids. That is according to research by Salud America!, a national Latino childhood obesity prevention network at UT Health San Antonio. That’s why we are spotlighting heroes who work hard to push water for Latino kids and families! Praxina Guerra: 5th-Grader Gets Hydration Station in School San Antonio fifth-grader Praxina Guerra and her mentor, Cathy Lopez, are true Salud Heroes when it comes to creating a healthy school environment. Praxina, spurred on by Lopez, joined the city's San Antonio Student Ambassador program and created a student club to encourage ...

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Teachers Who Went Above and Beyond for Students, Communities

What makes a great teacher? Great teachers not only work hard to ensure the academic success and leadership skills of their students, they also help students develop healthy habits for life. That's why we at Salud America! are excited to spotlight some teachers who have gone above and beyond for the well-being of their students! Ana Suffle: School Garden Maven El Paso, Texas, shares its border with Mexico. This creates an interesting cultural dynamic where some students cross the border daily from Mexico to go to Bowie High School in El Paso. Ana Suffle, a 15-year teacher at Bowie, said many students eat cheap, addictive fast food instead of traditional Hispanic dishes filled with fresh veggies, spices and tons of flavor, according to a Salud Hero story by Salud ...

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Baby Café Brings ‘Breastfeeding Peer Counselors’ to San Antonio Moms

Infant nutrition experts Norma Sifuentes and Diana Montano have promoted breastfeeding for 30 years combined in San Antonio, Texas (63.2% Latino). The two women, employees of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s Women, Infants and Children (SAMHD-WIC) department, know that breastfeeding duration rates are low here. Less breastfeeding means more risk of  obesity, diabetes, and lower IQs. So Sifuentes and Montano worked together to create a place—a haven—to help low-income Latina and all mothers access breastfeeding support and peer counseling. Why isn't breastfeeding more prominent? The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous. For babies, it reduces risk of infectious diseases, asthma, atopic dermatitis, childhood leukemia, diabetes, obesity and sudden infant ...

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Mom Group Gives Swag Bags to Help Nursing Moms

Latino Health breastfeeding

After Nikki Van Strien delivered her first son in Mesa, Ariz. (30.5% Latino), she realized the discharge package given to all new moms by the hospital could undermine a woman’s breastfeeding goals by pushing formula. She wanted to do something to support breastfeeding moms immediately after delivery. In 2011, Van Strien and some other moms developed the AZ Breastfeeding Bag Project to provide all new breastfeeding mothers with a bag filled with educational material and breastfeeding supply samples. They became a non-profit and recruited volunteers and donations to reach new mothers birthing in the hospital, birth center, or home. Breastfeeding Rates Low in Arizona Nikki Van Strien, a new mom in Mesa, Ariz., wanted to connect with other moms for support. She joined a local group she ...

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