Posts tagged Mexico
With the second-highest national rate of obesity in the world (after the U.S.) and the fourth highest rate of childhood obesity, Mexico has started an initiative to help educate children about healthy eating habits and the dangers associated with sugary beverages and fatty foods, Voxxi reports.
Mexican officials recently started a “Week of Taste” program in 124 schools to show children natural and simple flavors while creating a desire to eat healthy.
Last year, they started a campaign to focus on getting young people to drink more water, eat more vegetables and fruit, and to exercise more.
Armida Flores was a professional abuela—babysitting her granddaughters, volunteering at their schools, etc.—until they moved to California a few years ago.
Then Flores wasn’t sure what to do with her newfound spare time.
So the Mexico native, who was 30 years removed from school, didn’t know much English and had no career training, decided to enroll in bilingual nursing classes at Palo Alto College in San Antonio and simultaneously earned her GED in Spanish in 2008.
She also took beginner and advanced English to polish her language skills, and in May 2012 earned an associate’s degree in social work, psychology and Spanish.
“The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was to accept that I am not too old to start a new process in my life,” said Flores. “Now that I have overcome this obstacle, I continue working to improve my language and computer skills.”
She’s kick-started her career as a health educator at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
She serves as a patient navigator to help cancer survivors navigate the complex health care system, get emotional support, and access needed care services.
She also is a promotora—a community health worker for Latinos—on an IHPR-LIVESTRONG partnership to identify Latino cancer patients and refer them to LIVESTRONG’s cancer survivor services.
LIVESTRONG recently lauded Flores for having the highest number of referrals, and invited her to a national conference in July 2012.
Flores also coordinates workshops, member recruitment and record-keeping for the San Antonio Community Health Association, and she co-founded the Cuenta Conmigo cancer support group for Spanish speakers.
“Armida is the perfect bridge between our Latino community and our health care providers/system,” said IHPR researcher Sandra San Miguel de Majors. “Latino cancer survivors are able to relate to her because she’s from their own community, she speaks their same language and she understands their culture and barriers.
“I admire her positive attitude and willingness to help everyone. She’s got a quiet approach, but makes a very strong impact in our community.”
Flores hopes to eventually earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling.
“My motivations to accomplish my goals are my family, myself, and my desire to learn how to be able to help people in my community,” she said.
Check out this Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) blog about Unity Health Care, which runs a health center in a Washington, D.C., area that is home to many recent Mexican and Central American immigrants:
A 2008 study showed that, among the Latino population in DC, 60 percent of kids were overweight or obese—a staggering number, and one that Unity wanted to address.
On Wednesday morning at APHA, Dr. Eleni O’Donovan explained how they did.
O’Donovan and her colleagues began by adapting the national program We Can (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) to fit the needs of their center. They identified ways they could help local families, who were already coming to the health center for other services, eat healthier foods and be more active. Using those ideas, they ran a four week pilot program that was extremely popular. So popular in fact, that O’Donovan was able to expand it.
She and the center broadened their scope, and started looking at the local community to figure out how it could support participants’ efforts to lead healthier lives. What they found was encouraging. Local recreation centers were free to residents, and provided many classes for free as well. A local Community Supported Agriculture program connected them with an area farmer to provide fresh produce at half the normal cost. And they were able to bill the city health insurance provider for counseling sessions and meetings.
All of these factors showed how District policies and programs are going a long way towards supporting healthier lives for residents. The initiative and enthusiasm of Unity Health Care also caught the eye of another local leader: First Lady Michelle Obama. When Obama heard about the early success Unity had shown, she invited program participants to the White House lawn for a “Healthy Kids Fair”. They made the short trip to participate in the event filled with physical activity and healthy foods.
O’Donovan noted that, although participating families have made a lot of changes on their own, there are still factors that need to be addressed. In coordination with city policy-makers, Unity intends to demonstrate how social factors may be preventing children and families from leading healthier lives, and what can be done to change it.
The blog post also focuses on Salud America!, an RWJF program focused on Latino childhood obesity and based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.