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Teachers Who Went Above and Beyond for Latino Students



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



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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Food Pantry Thinks Outside the Box to Bring Healthy Food to Latinos in Need



Providing a week’s worth of healthy food and toiletries to families in need is the goal of Jessie Fisher and her nonprofit food pantry, the Randolph Area Christian Assistance Program (RACAP), in Schertz, Texas (29.3% Latino). But when food demand grew faster than the supply, Fischer and RACAP had to think quickly. They set up partnerships to gather leftover food from restaurants and grocers, pick up unwanted fruit from residents’ yards, and receive meat donations from hunters. They also launched food drives that yielded thousands of pounds of healthy food for Latino and other families during high-demand summer times. Food Insecurity in Schertz Schertz, Texas (29.3% Latino population) is a fast-rising, increasingly Latino (18.1% in 2000 and 26.6% in 2014) community just north ...

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Community Connectors Break Down Barriers to Healthy Homes



San Antonio’s Eastside Promise Neighborhood (EPN) is a community of about 18,000 residents (67.5% Latino) who face many health disparities driven by socioeconomic inequities in income, education and access to health care. Noemi Villarreal and others at EPN sought ways to improve health care and health equity in the area. To do that, they looked for ways to promote the idea of the “medical home,” in which the patient/family is the center of partnerships with primary care providers, specialists, educational resources, and the entire community. They formed a group of dedicated "Community Connectors" to travel the neighborhood and do whatever was necessary to promote development of a medical home for every home. Addressing issues in San Antonio Noemi Villarreal, health ...

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Parks Workers Create ‘Health’ Scavenger Hunt in San Antonio



City parks worker Michael Baldwin saw rampant physical inactivity and disease in San Antonio, Texas (68% Latino). To help, he wanted to attract people to existing health programs and services in city parks. Baldwin and his team, through local collaborations, developed Fit Pass, a city-wide scavenger hunt for wellness and physical activities. People can download a phone app or a bilingual Fit Pass passport that can be stamped for attending some of 2,300 activities across San Antonio parks, incentivizing Latino families to get physically active and play in parks. Physical Inactivity in San Antonio Michael Baldwin, special projects manager with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department (Parks Department) in San Antonio, Texas, has helped develop and implement ...

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Maria Silva: Adding Latino Nutrition to Spanish Magazines



Maria Silva is a registered dietitian and educator in St. Vincent de Paul’s bilingual Family Wellness Program in Phoenix (44% Latino). The program shares its services online on its website, and at local health fairs. But Silva noticed many local people had no Internet access or did not know about the health fairs. They missed opportunities to benefit from the program and free services offered. What other way could Silva promote program awareness and offer nutritional advice, healthy recipes, and healthy eating tips? She found the answer in an old-school magazine. The Program and the Magazine The Family Wellness Program began in 1999. It aims to boost the health of local Latino families, from a provision of medical and dental care to healthy lifestyle services for ...

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Community Health Centers Engage Latinos in Mental Health, Nutrition, Fitness



Many Latinos in Minnesota get “left out,” of the healthcare picture. That’s why HealthFinders Collaborative aims to provider healthcare and services to marginalized families in Rice county, nearly 50 miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. But HealthFinders leaders like Charlie Mandile continued to identify gaps in local healthcare. Mandile and his team came up with a solution a few years ago: the Pura Vida Healthy Lifestyles Program, an effort to bring free preventive health and fitness classes to the local rapidly growing Latino population. How has the effort paid off? Gaps in Latino health in Minnesota HealthFinders Collaborative, community health centers in Northfield, Minn. (8% Latino population), and Faribault, Minn. (11.74% Latino population) formed to ...

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Health Worker Starts Free Fitness in the Park



Pete Garcia spent several years as a personal trainer in San Antonio, learning first-hand that many residents in at-risk parts of the city struggled with obesity and related health problems. So when Garcia became the city’s supervisor of athletics and programs, he wanted to develop and implement programs that would increase access to physical activity opportunities for at-risk residents across the city.\ With grant funding and the city’s formation of the Mayor’s Fitness Council a few years ago, Garcia was able to capitalize on partnerships and collaboration to develop the “Fitness in the Park” program to provide free fitness classes in parks in each of the city’s 10 council districts. San Antonio Inactive and Unhealthy Pete Garcia worked for many years as a ...

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