August 5, 2015 | by Tami Dennis
And the winners are … everyone in the San Gabriel Valley.
The recipients of City of Hope’s first-ever Healthy Living grants have been announced, and the future is looking healthier already. In selecting San Gabriel Valley organizations to receive the grants, City of Hope’s Community Benefits Advisory Council chose seven projects most likely to help residents make healthy lifestyle choices, thus reducing their risk of cancer and diabetes.
The grants will support the organizations’ efforts to encourage residents to eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, reduce the likelihood of tobacco use, and otherwise improve their physical and mental health.
“City of Hope is committed to a healthier community, one with a lower risk of cancer and diabetes and, to get there, we needed to address some of the surrounding issues of health, health care and access that are not in our wheelhouse,” said Community Benefits manager Nancy Clifton-Hawkins. “That means helping people achieve a healthy lifestyle.”
As a biomedical research institution and cancer treatment center, City of Hope is well-positioned to support other established organizations already working within the community to improve health. Supporting those institutions was a logical step.
“The San Gabriel Valley has many wonderful nonprofits, government agencies and other organizations that help people on a daily basis, and we wanted to help them take their work to the next level,” Clifton-Hawkins said.
Like the grants themselves, the Community Benefits Advisory Council was developed to integrate City of Hope even more closely into the community. Made up of community groups and other nonprofit institutions, the council provides feedback to City of Hope and funnels needed information and assistance to the community. Council members selected the following recipients of the $5,000 grants based on the groups’ creativity, sustainability, impact and accountability:
Azusa Pacific University for its Neighborhood Wellness Center’s Azusa Walks Program:
This six-week program addresses physical inactivity in a predominately low-income, uninsured, Spanish-speaking community at high risk for diabetes and obesity. The program assesses personal risk for disease, creates individual disease-risk prevention plans, and provides support for a fitness program through athletic trainer sessions. It also integrates the participation of senior Exercise Science program students in the offering of physical assessments, including prescriptions for exercise. In an expansion of the program supported by the grant, students will follow up with participants to offer continued education, goal setting and motivational support and monitoring.
Pasadena Educational Foundation for Sharing a Healthy Start:
The foundation, together with the Pasadena Unified School District, will address the rising obesity and diabetes rates in the community by expanding the Sharing a Healthy Start strategy. The goal is to increase access to healthy food and nutrition education for families in the district’s highest-poverty schools.
The foundation and the district will address the practical challenges of eating healthfully – as well as the perception that eating healthy food is expensive – by offering food preparation and cooking workshops; school and community garden demonstrations; assistance with enrollment in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Market Match; and field trips to various markets to compare the real costs of fresh food and fast food.
Day One for Walk/Bike to School:
Day One will build upon ongoing efforts to increase opportunities for physical activity and access to wellness resources in the Cities of El Monte and South El Monte. Its proposal centered on a Safe Routes to School Education and Encouragement campaign for Mountain View Elementary School District, consisting of Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day. The program aims to increase walking/bicycling to school, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, assess the walk-ability/bike-ability of routes to school, and advance public health.
This will be a pilot program at 12 schools (10 elementary, one intermediate, one middle) in El Monte and South El Monte, reaching approximately 7,400 K8 students.
Alta Med for Diabetes Group Visit Program:
Alta Med will address the root causes of diabetes-related health disparities, and the lack of prevention behaviors in people at high risk for diabetes and pre-diabetes through an expansion of its Diabetes Group Visit Program at the West Covina site. The program will deliver diabetes education in combination with one-to-one medical evaluations by a physician.
The educational component is co-facilitated by a health educator and the physician, and is designed to encourage group participation and interaction that fosters learning among the participants. Additionally, AltaMed utilizes community health workers (promotoras) with similar cultural backgrounds and language preferences to AltaMed’s patients, to establish trust with patients and deliver personalized health education on chronic disease self-management.
American Heart Association for Check.Change.Control
Check. Change. Control is an innovative program that focuses on the prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke by utilizing local resources and collaborative partnerships with hospitals, clinics, and community organizations in the San Gabriel Valley. The evidence-based program targets low-income adults and seniors of Asian and other descent. The association’s Life’s Simple 7 and Heart 360 (web-based health survey and health management tracking tools) will be incorporated into the program as a means to guide participants toward healthier lifestyles through proper nutrition, physical fitness, weight management, smoking cessation, and hypertension management.
Bike San Gabriel Valley for Learn to Bike SGV
Bike San Gabriel Valley seeks to increase the proportion of adolescents living in the San Gabriel Valley who meet current federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity and for muscle-strengthening activity. The Learn to Bike program is aimed at promoting regular physical activity in the target communities by providing classes for youth, young adults and other members of the public who never learned how to ride a bike, along with resources to learn how to repair/maintain bikes.
The El Monte City School District was chosen for this project due to the high need for services within the City of El Monte, which suffers from one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Los Angeles County. The district has provided Bike SGV with space to provide services to the community at the new Jeff Seymour Family Center, located at the now decommissioned Mulhall Elementary School.
The campus already is home to BikeSGV’s head office and soon-to-open SGV Bike Education Center, which will be the San Gabriel Valley’s first community bicycle cooperative and education center.
San Gabriel High School Business and Technology Academy for its Health and Wellness Initiative
This student-led initiative will seek to enhance health-related knowledge and behavior in vulnerable communities in the San Gabriel Valley. Through a three-way strategy, the academy’s students will:
-Design and implement a health and wellness media campaign with memes, commercials and slogans.
-Build movable raised-bed planters on campus that grow and that highlight nutrient dense “superfoods.”
-Host an all-school “Garden to Table” health and wellness event in which the entire student body can
learn about, and sample, healthy foods and superfoods that also taste good.
This project includes students and their teachers from the Business & Technology Academy, the Medical Academy, and the culinary and woodshop classes. Throughout this project, students will track shifts in attitudes toward healthy food choices, and increases in knowledge in how to incorporate healthier foods into their daily diets.
Each of the projects was chosen for their potential impact on health, and the organizers of each were appreciative for the chance to grow.
“The Neighborhood Wellness Center is excited for this opportunity to partner with City of Hope in our effort to grow and extend our health promotion and disease prevention efforts in Azusa and surrounding communities,” said Julie Pusztai, M.S.N., R.N., director of Azusa Pacific University’s Neighborhood Wellness Center. “The City of Hope Healthy Living grant will allow our School of Nursing to expand and enhance our already successful physical activity program with a novel additional strategy of an individualized exercise prescription program offered by the APU Exercise Science Program.”
Said Christy Zamani, executive director of Day One: “Thank you again for believing in Day One and our mission of advancing public health in our communities.”
Currently, the Healthy Living grants are a pilot project. Clifton-Hawkins says City of Hope hopes to make the grants an annual fund, but that the format might change. “We want to learn from this year so we can make the best investments,” she said. “We want our community to be as strong and healthy as it can be.”