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Dr. Rogelio Saenz: Using Data to Fight Racism, Push for Health Equity


Rogelio Saenz demographer and Latino health equity advocate at UTSA 2

Dr. Rogelio Sáenz is no stranger to health inequity. Growing up along the Texas-Mexico border, he saw Latino families ripped apart by poverty, plagued by systemic bias and racism, struggling to get the healthcare they needed—yet facing a mostly white leadership not ready for change. Sáenz' own grandfather worked as a janitor for a local electric co-op. He couldn't advance in the job due to extreme racism. He had to take side jobs to make extra money for his family. As a child, Sáenz himself experienced racism in the classroom. He continuously got in trouble for speaking Spanish. He also could not hang out with his white friend outside of class. “My white classmate invited me to his house. But then he [his classmate] came back and said, 'Never mind, my parents said no ...

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Cancer Survivor Strives to Change Men’s Health Culture with Cross-Country Road Trip


canales cancer road trip

Nine-thousand miles. That's nearly the number Gabe Canales, founder of Blue Cure—a prostate cancer support and awareness group—traveled earlier this year. He took this journey to advocate for something he believes is too essential to overlook: Promoting men's health. Before beginning this advocacy road trip, Canales struggled with his own life-changing, adverse health experience — in 2010, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. "I really wasn't concerned at all with my health or other men's health before then," Canales said. "Sadly, it sometimes takes a person getting sick for them to look at their own health. There were some other factors after that led me to be very driven to do something for men's health issues overall." A Cancer Diagnosis Too Soon At 35 years old, ...

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Kids Start School Food Pantry on Texas-Mexico Border



High-schoolers Samantha Almaraz and Pablo Ramirez see many classmates who struggle with hunger and poverty in the 85% Latino border town of McAllen, Texas. They wanted to help. So Samantha and Pablo, 10th-graders at Lamar Academy, started a school food pantry by working with their parents, school leaders, and using the Salud America! “School Food Pantry Action Pack” as a guide for their efforts. With their pantry, called the Energy Bar, they store leftover food from the cafeteria and distribute it to hungry students. "We're surrounded by people who are hungry and that don't get food,” said Samantha, who with Pablo is in the International Baccalaureate program at Lamar in McAllen ISD. "They tell us, ‘I don't have food waiting for me at home.’” The Energy Bar ...

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TILT-ed Texan Spreads Toxic-Chemical Awareness to Save Lives


Cambron Salud Hero TILT

For over 100 days in 1996, Melanie Cambron experienced migraines so severe she couldn’t leave her home. Other maladies surfaced during this time — all of which had no reasonable explanation. It wasn’t until she discovered she was one of the many people experiencing Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), that everything changed. “My symptoms kept escalating,” Cambron said. “There was a lot of cognitive dysfunction, also known as brain fog—an inability to think and form rational thoughts—lots of depression, lots of anxiety, wild mood swings, and just general malaise. “Doing one little activity, that would seem normal, would wipe me out for two days. I would be bedridden for a couple of days for just running one little, quick errand.” Since this ...

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5 Heroes Who Use Bikes to Steer Kids toward Healthier Lives


salud heroes bike healthier for kids

Kids have fun when they ride bikes. They also get needed physical activity. But did you know that riding a bike can aid children's balance, reduce anxiety and stress, reduce their obesity risk, promote social interaction, and help acclimate to their surroundings? That’s why we at Salud America! are spotlighting Salud Heroes who are pushing for safe, bike-friendly environments for Latino and all kids! Dante Jones: A 'Roll Model' for Kids in San Antonio Growing up, Dante Jones always looked forward to weekend bike rides with his father. In those rides with his dad, Jones said he learned important life lessons and experienced the beauty of the outdoors, all while getting exercise. So when his daughter, Glory, was old enough to ride a bike, he decided to start a similar ...

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Priced Out: How a Brilliant Cartoon Explains the Housing Crisis in San Francisco


characters from the priced out series on housing in san francisco

Media producers Joseph Smooke and Dyan Ruiz have seen the harsh impact of unaffordable housing on Latino families in San Francisco. Rents rise. Wages don't. Latinos get priced out of their homes—forced to move further away from health-promoting assets like jobs, transit, and medical care. Many people don't know why this happens, or what to do. Smooke and Ruiz, who created a media group to advocate for equitable public policies, wanted to empower families who face housing crises and build public demand for solutions. So they went to the drawing board—literally. San Francisco and Unaffordable Housing Looking for an affordable place to live in San Francisco is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Especially in places like the city's Mission District. The ...

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Three Heroes Blazing a Path for Equitable Transportation


equitable transportation for Latino communities

Equitable transportation that is safe, affordable, and reliable can boost a person’s health and social mobility. But too often, public money pays for projects that widen historical gaps in access to transportation options for communities of color. Latinos, for example, face many transportation inequities that cut off connections to health-promoting assets─like affordable housing, green spaces, and medical care. This also makes it harder to lead healthy lives, according to a Salud America! research review, The State of Latino Housing, Transportation, and Green Space. That’s why we at Salud America! are spotlighting three Salud Heroes who are pushing forward for equitable transportation for Latinos and all people! Minerva Perez’s Free Ride Program Helps Latinos Overcome ...

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Toledo Mom Fights for Clean Drinking Water for Her Own, All Children


Toledo Safe Water Action

Crystal Jankowski ran the faucet in her hospital room for 12 hours straight the day she gave birth — all in hopes that the tap water would come out clean for Amelia, her newborn girl. Just days before her delivery in August 2014, the city of Toledo, Ohio (8.3% Latino) told residents not to drink the municipal water. High levels of health-threatening toxins contaminated the public water supply sourced from Lake Erie. Jankowski, a Toledo-native, wanted to do something for her two children and all kids. So, she became an organizer for Toledoans for Safe Water (TSW), a group with an idea for a controversial Lake Erie Bill of Rights to enable residents to sue lake polluters. “When you fight for clean water you are fighting for people of the reservations, you’re fighting for ...

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Phoenix Children’s Hospital: Creating a Culture of Bike Safety for Latino and All Kids


Injury prevention specialist, Juan Tarango created a six-week, hands-on bike safety course for fourth grade students in Phoenix, AZ.

Juan Tarango of Tempe, Arizona, has been an avid cyclist for over 30 years. For him, it’s about exploring, exploring his city, state, country and even other countries. He loves to see kids ride bicycles, having fun and getting physical activity. But he hated seeing how many kids show up with bike-related injuries at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital ER where he worked. “One kid─wasn’t going fast, wasn’t doing tricks─falls, hits his head, and ends up with life-changing brain injury,” Tarango said. Tarango wanted to help. He wondered: What could he do to teach Latino and all kids bicycle safety behaviors, and thus reduce  bike-related injuries? Children, Bicycling, and Injuries Bicycling is good for your health. For kids, it can help develop muscle ...

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