Comité Organizador Latino de City Heights
Each year San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative releases a Request for Applications for mini-grants addressing policy, system, or environmental changes in support of healthy eating and active living. This year, the Childhood Obesity Initiative had 17 applicants with a request for over $75,000. While funding typically covers 2-3 projects, the Childhood Obesity Initiative was able to fund 8 mini-grant projects this year thanks to a generous gift from the Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan.
The Comité Organizador Latino de City Heights received a Childhood Obesity Initiative grant to help their Formando Niños Campeanes Summer Camp program. Comité Organizador Latino de City Heights is a group of women who are highly committed to the health and education of their community’s children. They advocate for a network of up to 600 Latinx families to whom they offer training and education on health and educational issues.
The purpose of the Formando Niños Campeanes Summer Camp program was to help families form healthy habits and show parents the resources close to home that could help keep their family active and healthy.
This past summer, the families, including 31 children ages 8-12 years old and 20 parents, met every morning from June 20 to July 8 at Colina del Sol Park to experience new activities, including circus games, cooking, community gardening, swimming, boxing, and art. They partnered with Foodshed, Und1sputed Gym, City Heights Library, and City Heights Swim Center and City Heights Community Development Corporation and Fern Street Circus, both Recognized Partners. If the children show interest in any activity, they were supported to continue their participation in it.
One family got their child's library card while they visited City Heights Library. Other families registered their children for swimming classes and others for boxing. This was a great opportunity for everyone to try new activities.
All the activities were enriching for the children and their families, but the most impactful and interesting to the students was the "Community Garden" and the cooking classes; through these activities they were able to explore seasonal crops and sow sunflower sprouts, broccoli, and radish. The youth joined their parents in preparing their own food which encouraged them to try even the vegetables they did not like, such as cauliflower. Once they prepared their cauliflower ceviche, they all loved the activity and commented that they would eat and cook it again. They also learned to prepare oatmeal with chia and avocado with whole wheat toast and sprouts. They also made healthier desserts like mini-pancakes skewers with banana, strawberries, homemade Nutella, and vanilla pudding with grapes and strawberries.
An elderly participant said that this program made her feel young and full of life again. She enjoyed the experience perhaps even more than her granddaughter did.
Many children were not too happy about participating at first, but they would later be the ones to encourage their parents to take them to Comité Organizador Latino de City Heights program.
The Formando Niños Campeanes program connected family members both young and old to experience and discover new activities and meals. It was deemed a success as it improved participants' mental health and self-esteem, increased their physical activity, and piqued their curiosity to discover healthier meal options.
To learn more about the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative visit https://sdcoi.org/.