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High School Teen Cooks up a Healthy Camp Course



California teen Elena Dennis wanted to help kids have healthy diets, and what better way than to encourage them to learn how to make fresh foods? Dennis, while a high school senior, cooked up an idea for a camp that helps kids discover the fun of learning how to cook, and how to prepare and eat healthy foods from scratch. Bringing kids awareness of healthy foods, she also took the camp on local field trips to farms and farmers’ markets. EMERGENCE Awareness: At the young age of 12, Elena Dennis of Novato, Calif. (23.1 % Latino), started developing a passion for cooking thanks to her father’s home-cooked meals and her attendance at Operation C.H.E.F., a nutrition-based cooking summer camp for kids and teens. “I’ve always been a believer in home-cooked meals, and my Dad taught ...

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School Principal Steers a Culture of Cycling with Bike Safety and BMX Trails



In 2009 Douglas Johnson, the new principal at Mountlake Terrace Elementary School in Mountlake Terrace, Wash. (10.5% Latino), realized the enormity of physical inactivity and obesity in his community. Latino kids lack safe, quality opportunities for physical activity, which heightens their risk for obesity and disease. Safe biking opportunities provide one avenue to improve the situation. Johnson and other leaders at Mountlake Terrace started taking advantage of existing opportunities offered by local cycling clubs. Soon, they began creating their opportunities and helped bring new bikes, helmets, and a brand-new bike trail to the school to expand students’ ability to get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. Kids Aren't Playing Enough In 2009 Douglas Johnson, ...

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Bishop Jose Torres Helps His Church Start a Hispanic Health Festival



Bishop Jose Torres, a father of three girls who plays volleyball in his spare time, was concerned about the lack of health awareness among his congregation in Severn, a suburb of Annapolis, MD. He wanted to do something about it. So with a few dedicated partners, he created a Hispanic Health Festival for his community. For over five years, the Hispanic Health Festival has provided much-needed health information and services to hundreds of Latinos in the community and has even saved a few lives. Concern over a community's health Located in Severn, a suburb of the city of Annapolis, MD (16.8% Latino), the Heritage Community Church has a sizeable Latino population. Bishop Jose Torres and the rest of the Church leadership were concerned about the health and health literacy of their ...

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Learning Gardens Map Out Healthy Options



In Florida, access to healthy food may be greater than 10 miles for some families. Many at-risk kids do not get the opportunity to learn about where fresh food comes from or how it is grown. Hoping to help to fight hunger and obesity through educating kids about the value of eating fruits and vegetables, local UnitedHealthcare employee volunteers teamed up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL football team to build and donate learning gardens to local Florida schools. EMERGENCE Awareness/Learn: The population of Tampa, Fla., (23.1%) and its county seat, Hillsborough County, Fla., (26% Latino) have had an influx of Latino families moving to the area since 2013, according to Tampa General Hospital’s 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment. Unfortunately, 66.1% of Latino adults are ...

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Neighborhood Renovates Park & Soccer Field in Latino Community in Chicago



In the past 10 years, the Thomas Kelly High School girls’ soccer team has been one of the winningest teams in Chicago but they don’t even have their own field to practice or play on. The school is in Southwest Chicago’s Brighton Park Neighborhood (83% Latino), an area that is burdened by high rates of obesity and physical inactivity due to less access to safe and quality recreational facilities than other parts of Chicago. The Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC) organized a campaign to renovate Kelly Park, the park adjacent to Kelly High School, to build a turf football/soccer field to make the park safer for students and families. EMERGENCE Awareness: Patrick Brosnan, Sara Reschly, and other Brighton Park residents saw how environmental injustice negatively affected the ...

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Teen Sisters Help Kids Conquer Obesity in Corpus Christi, Texas



How can one family have an impact on reducing obesity in their school and beyond?  Just look at the Surani sisters of Corpus Christi, Texas. After learning that their city had been named the fattest in the nation and how obesity is a huge health threat among children, the three girls wanted to take action. They, with the help of their parents and others, created several programs to improve children’s health, including the iConquer program to help kids beat obesity by achieving healthy lifestyles starting from the early ages of 3 to 6 years old. EMERGENCE Awareness: Fifteen-year-old Zoya Surani, along with sisters Sara (19) and Saherish (16), grew up in a household where healthy choices were commonplace. Their father, a pulmonologist, and mother, a respiratory therapist, always made ...

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Middle Schoolers Develop Health Program for Elementary Students



In 2010, the predominantly Latino city of Corpus Christi, Texas, was labeled the “fattest city in the nation” by Men’s Health magazine. A group of local middle school students were not happy about this designation and wanted to do something about it. After speaking to friends and teachers, the students reached out to influential community members to develop interest and support for a health program for elementary students called “Mission FitPossible.” Three years later, the students were high school students and they would wake up an hour early to bring Mission FitPossible to nearby elementary students. Next Generation to Inherit Fattest City in Texas Corpus Christi, Texas (59.7% Latino), was labeled the “fattest city in the nation” in 2010. Sarita Damaraju and Doug ...

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Dia de Salud Increases Health Equity in Latino Community in Oregon



Sarah Cantril started the Huerto de la Familia program to focus on boosting health equity by helping Latino families live healthier lives in Eugene, Ore. In trying a new approach to bring health information to Latino families, Julia Ridgeway-Diaz and other officials with Huerto de la Familia decided to start an annual health fair, called Dia de Salud (Health Day). This free, culturally tailored annual health fair brings Latino families together to receive free eye exams, blood tests, and other health services that would normally be unavailable to their community. What role do Latinos play in their health?  Huerto de la Familia has been assisting Latino immigrant and migrant families in Eugene, Ore. (7.8% Latino), since 1999, when Sarah Cantril formed the organization from a ...

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Hospital Teams with Schools to Boost Wellness for Florida Students



RJ Manchester and Erica Asti, staffers at the Florida Hospital for Children, along with Dr. Angela Fals and her team, spent years working with obese children and families in their Central Florida CCFW clinic. The local childhood overweight and obesity rates ranged from 32% in Orange County (28.7% Latino population) to 64% in Osceola County (48.6% Latino). The team was growing increasingly concerned about younger and younger patients with obesity-related health complications. “We were having some of the youngest patients we’ve ever had in the weight and wellness clinic with pre-diabetes and diabetes,” Asti said. They wanted to step up in a big way. An underlying issue: No P.E. Asti and Manchester and the CCFW team discovered that many parents misidentified their ...

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