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Group Creates ‘Wellness Corridor’ to Promote Active Spaces in Santa Ana, Calif.



The mostly Latino southern area of Santa Ana, Calif., had limited places to be active—and not a single park. Desperate for more active spaces to give them more chances to get fit and avoid disease and obesity, residents pushed for and received a new park, Corazones Verdes Park. While park construction remained underway, members of Latino Health Access sought alternative active spaces. That’s when they came up with the idea of creating a Wellness Corridor through downtown Santa Ana. Now partners from across the city are discussing ways to make the community more walkable, and residents of all ages are learning to effectively voice the need for healthy options. EMERGENCE Awareness: America Bracho, a Venezuelan-born physician and public health advocate for the Latino community of south ...

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Pediatrician Challenges Families to Rethink Sugary Juices and Drinks



Growing up in Spain, Dr. Marta Katalenas ate home-cooked meals made with fresh ingredients.When she moved to the United States in 1984 to learn English and become a pediatrician, she saw a different way of life that included way more treats, especially sugary juices and drinks. As she began her practice, she said she saw a growing association between kids drinking too much sugar and being overweight. Dr. Katalenas decided that if she was going to help parents set their kids on a path of health, she needed to get the whole community involved in reducing sugary drink consumption—so she made reducing sugary drinks part of her new monthly health challenge for families. EMERGENCE Awareness: Spain native Dr. Marta Katalenas, who moved to the U.S. in 1984 and became a board-certified ...

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San Antonio Teachers Create Mud Runs for Latino Kids



If you’ve ever dreamed of making a difference in your community (or if you’re a kid who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty), then you’ll want to hear about the amazing mud run program, Mile Strong Kids by Fred Bailon and John Soto. Bailon and Soto, two elementary-school teachers in the majority Latino city of San Antonio, Texas, organized a one-day mud run to start “standing up to obesity.” The event was so surprisingly successful that it led to the formation of a running club and non-profit group to organize mud runs all over town. Obesity Spurs Big Idea Fred Bailon and John Soto are teachers at W.Z. “Doc” Burke Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas. About 87% of Burke students are Latino and 82.3% of the school’s population is economically disadvantaged, ...

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Olivares Food Market Goes the Extra Mile to Serve the Community



About five years ago, Clara Santos opened Olivares Food Market to serve the Philadelphia neighborhood in which she lived. Offering quick meals and grab-and-go snacks, her store was popular but had few healthy snacks. With some help from a food access organization, Santos learned that offering and promoting healthy food options is not only good for the health of her customers, but for business, too. EMERGENCE Awareness: Olivares Food Market, a Latino-oriented corner store in South Philadelphia, owned by Clara Santos, is a lot like other similar markets in Philadelphia and across the country. That is, it lacks healthy food options and has no marketing for the few it does have. Olivares sells prepared foods—like high-calorie cheesesteaks for lunch and pancakes for breakfast—and ...

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Youth Help Popular Corner Store Advertise the Good Stuff in Massachusetts



In the small, multicultural city of Lynn, Mass., minorities make up almost half the population, with Latinos making up almost a third. With obesity on the rise in the area, many groups are stepping up to make healthy changes where they live, work, and play. Local corners stores, where many kids hang out before and after school, are well-positioned to make a positive impact on kids’ food choices—if they are marketing the right foods. A group of high-school students chose one popular corner store to help promote healthy snacks and make it easier for teens to pick apples over chips—contributing to a wave of new healthy markets sweeping over Massachusetts. EMERGENCE Awareness: The small city of Lynn, Massachusetts gets more diverse every day. The Latino population grew from 18% to ...

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Second Largest School District in U.S. Transforms Lunch with Meatless Mondays



Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second-largest district in the United States, serving breakfast and lunch in more than 1,200 schools daily. Since the early 2000s they have been creating a healthy food culture that teaches students about healthy eating and introduces them to many new foods, while embracing federal nutritional standards as they improve over time. LAUSD has banned soda and junk food from campus, removed flavored milks, and brought healthy breakfasts to the classroom. A recent accomplishment, pushed by LAUSD Director of Food Services David Binkle and other school leaders, is removing what they call “kid food” from their cafeterias—instead serving healthy meals with flavors and ingredients from a variety of cultures and backgrounds—including ...

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School Food Official Helps Bring Water to Every Desk!



Cutler-Orosi is the largest unincorporated community in one of the poorest counties in California. Located in the largely Latino region called the San Joaquin Valley, more than half of the men and women who live here are migrant farm workers. Poverty limits food and beverage choices to what’s cheap, easy, and not always healthy. One school district food services director, Brenda Handy, went above and beyond to ensure that, while kids were at school, they were not only eating well, but drinking well, too. Tackling the 'Soda Issue' Ever since Brenda Handy started as food services director for the 95% Latino Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District in California’s San Joaquin Valley more than four years ago, she saw students struggle to maintain healthy weights. She noticed ...

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Community Leaders Team Up with Schools to Bring PE to San Francisco Students



Shape Up San Francisco, a coalition of community leaders, wanted to know if kids in San Francisco were meeting state requirements for time spent in PE. They convened a group called the PE Advocates and began to study 20 elementary, four middle, and four high schools. After learning that almost 80% of elementary schools were not getting enough PE time, Shape Up SF’s PE Advocates partnered with school officials to develop a plan to change this. Now, thanks to the partnership, the district has 38 PE specialists to train teachers in the skills needed to provide students with quality PE. EMERGENCE Awareness: Local health advocates Christina Goette and Marianne Szeto were concerned about the city’s growing childhood obesity rates and health disparities. The number of overweight ...

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Healthier Lunches at Sunset High



If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do to fix school lunches? If money was no option, what would you do to bring healthier foods into schools? These are the kinds of questions students at Sunset High School in Del Norte County, California asked while dreaming-up big solutions to their less-than-great school food. Fed up with the pre-packaged lunches and unhealthy options, the youth organized and advocated for change, building partnerships and leadership skills—using the PICO community organizing model—that will last a lifetime. Del Norte County and Adjacent Tribal Lands (DNATL) is one of the 14 communities selected to participate in the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) program. Funded by The California Endowment, BHC is a ten-year, comprehensive community initiative ...

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