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A High School Project Transforms a Neighborhood



From PowerPoint presentations to outlines to thick textbooks, there are many ways students learn about the world while at school. Rarely do they get the chance to learn by actually solving real-world problems—let alone problems that directly affect their lives. Learn how a high school teacher merged academics with activism and rallied his students to bring healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables into their underserved neighborhood. EMERGENCE Awareness:  While listening to the radio one day, San Antonio resident and high school teacher Rick Treviño got an idea. He was listening to a news story about how a group in Michigan started a Double Up Food Bucks program at local farmers’ market as a way to allow low-income folks to put their federal food assistance toward healthy ...

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5th-Grader, Teacher Help Add a Water Bottle Fountain in School



Praxina Guerra and her mentor Cathy Lopez are true Salud Heroes when it comes to creating an environment of school health and fun. After becoming involved with a local student ambassador program and creating a school club to encourage students to adopt healthier practices, the pair collected funds for a water bottle fountain, also called a hydration station, to be installed in the school’s cafeteria. Their team also started monthly Wellness Wednesday fitness events, available to both parents and students, as a way to increase fitness opportunities for the surrounding community. Seeing the Issue of Obesity First-Hand According to a 2009, Bexar County assessment of obesity by school district, 40% of children enrolled in South San Antonio Independent School District (SSAISD) were ...

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At Kansas Corner Store, Bilingual Ads Help People Pick Healthy Foods



In a heavily Latino part of Kansas that struggled with obesity, one coalition stepped up to find new ways to help the Latino community make healthier food choices. How’d they try to do it? They started to change the local food environment by increasing the availability and marketing of healthy foods in local stores—and it worked. EMERGENCE Awareness: Wyandotte County, Kan., which is 27.1% Hispanic and is home to Kansas City, had a growing problem of obesity, with 41% of school children listed as overweight or obese. Officials with the Latino Health for All Coalition (funded in 2008 by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities), were increasingly aware that many residents shop at corner stores or small grocery stores, which do not always offer fresh ...

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A Fresh Food Station Lands in Fairfax County, Va.



In the 22% Latino Fairfax County Public School District in Fairfax, Va., a parent group called Real Food for Kids had rid school cafeterias of highly processed junk foods and improved the nutrition of school snacks and menus. But the change was not very visible to students. So the group, led by parent JoAnne Hammermaster, helped bring a fresh food stations showcase the healthier selections—and add new ones—for students at district schools. EMERGENCE Awareness: Childhood obesity is a priority for the parent group Real Food for Kids (RFFK), which pushes for healthy changes in the Fairfax County Public School District (FCPSD), a 22% Latino district in Fairfax, Va. In 2012, for example, RFFK drove FCPSD leaders to remove foods with artificial dyes, additives, and other highly ...

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Latino Teen Helps Bring a Salad Bar to His High School in San Antonio, Texas



Alexander Castillo was looking to make some healthy changes in his own life when he came to the realization that his school lacked tasty, nutritious lunch options. Why couldn’t his school have a salad bar? After joining the Mayor’s Fitness Council Student Ambassador program, developing a plan with his mentor, and reaching out to his district’s food services department, Alexander was able to secure a salad bar for his high school. The new salad bar led to an increase in salad purchases and a new outlook on eating fresh fruit and vegetables at his school. EMERGENCE Awareness: Alexander Castillo, a student at Southwest Academy (a non-traditional alternative high school in the mostly Latino city of San Antonio, Texas) set a goal to pursue his passion for wrestling in 2014. He ...

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Dignowity Hill Farmers’ Market



Farmers’ markets are a great place to find fresh fruits and vegetables when your local grocery store doesn’t sell them. But when your neighborhood doesn’t have a farmers’ market OR a local grocery store with fresh fruits and vegetables—are you just out of luck? Find out how a Latina school teacher-turned healthy food activist was inspired by her friend to start a farmers’ market in her neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas, so neighbors could not only have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but learn how to cook tasty dishes that make healthy eating a delicious way of life. EMERGENCE Awareness: As a computer teacher at an elementary school in inner-city San Antonio, TX, Michelle Griego watches kids choose chips over carrots daily. San Antonio sits within ...

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Campaign Urges San Antonio Residents to “Veg Out”



Science backs up your mom’s old adage: “Eat your fruits and vegetables if you want to be healthy and strong!” Unfortunately, this message is often lost or unheeded, buried beneath junk food ads relentlessly targeting kids, especially Latinos. Leaders in San Antonio, Texas decided to combat the city’s troubling obesity rate with a campaign designed to get kids (and their parents!) to eat more fruits and veggies. The “Veg Out” campaign, backed by science and a diverse coalition of public health, school, city, and other officials, aims to have a lasting impact on the health of families in San Antonio. EMERGENCE Awareness: San Antonio is a unique, mostly Latino city known for its rich culture and traditions. However, some cultural traditions, like the consumption of ...

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“Sugar Smarts” Bilingual Campaign in Boston against Sugary Drinks for Kids



The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) was ready to step up the fight to improve health in the face of rising obesity problems among racial/ethnic populations. Latino and black high-school students were especially overweight/obese (34.2% and 35.9%, respectively), possibly due to the fact that 24% of students consume at least one soda daily, according to a study. The BPHC developed a bilingual public health campaign against sugary drinks to help racial/ethnic residents make healthier choices. EMERGENCE Awareness/Learn: Obesity is typically a bigger problem among racial/ethnic populations. Boston, which is increasingly diverse, with an 18% Latino and 24% black population, exemplifies this disparity. In 2010, Latino and black high-school students were very overweight (34.2% ...

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Digital and Video Nutrition Education for Kids in Class and Out



School lunches and snacks are becoming more nutritious thanks to improved federal nutrition regulations—but this is only part of the school food solution. Nutrition education for kids is a critical component. One seasoned children’s TV producer, who witnessed the childhood obesity epidemic as she raised her own kids, had an idea to use new technology to engage kids in learning about healthy living. Because of her, thousands of kids in Massachusetts, New York, and Florida have begun learning through KickinNutrition.TV, a digital platform for teachers to use to instruct students on healthy eating habits and exercise through videos, online gaming, and a social-media-like engagement designed for elementary- and middle-schoolers. EMERGENCE Awareness/Learn: Natasha Lance Rogoff worked ...

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