A Welcome Addition to OC’s Most Park-Poor Neighborhood

A Welcome Addition to OC’s Most Park-Poor Neighborhood

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 12:29 pm | Updated: 8:19 am, Thu Jun 6, 2013. By TRACY WOOD It’s the most park-poor ZIP code in Orange County, but in one tiny corner of 92701 in Santa Ana this week, hundreds of neighborhood children finally climbed a jungle gym, shot a basket or just sat on the grass. Ten years in the making, the opening of the half-acre Green Heart Park & Community Center near the intersection of East Fourth and French streets was celebrated by Latino Health Access over last weekend. “This is just the beginning,” said Dr. America Bracho, executive director of Latino Health Access. Within its first week, at least 1,000 children and adults from the area are expected try out the play equipment or see what classes are available in the recreation center. “It’s a very grass-roots project, and it needs grass-roots answers.” Beyond the effort that went into building it, what makes this park unique is that its future literally depends on the people who use it. Users will be responsible for keeping the grass green, the equipment working and holding classes at the recreation center. One woman in the neighborhood has already volunteered to maintain the landscaping, and Latino Health Access and neighborhood leaders are developing plans to create a larger volunteer force for the park. The park is an important addition to the Station District area, which has less than ahalf-acre of parkland per 1,000 residents, according to the City Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. South County cities like Irvine and Laguna Nigel have more than seven acres of parkland per 1,000 residents....

Latinos And The Obesity Epidemic

Read the original story on The Futuro Media Group’s website here. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the US after cigarette smoking. Latinos are especially hard hit, developing diabetes and other obesity related health problems at high rates. Reporter Nova Safo visits the predominantly Latino city of Santa Ana, California to see how biology, economics and environment all contribute to the problem. Click here to download this week’s show. Nova Safo is a Los Angeles-based reporter who covers a wide variety of topics ranging from the Hollywood entertainment industry, to visual arts, culture, politics, policy, health, science, the future of energy, economics, and the occasional massive wildfire. His reporting has been heard on NPR’s various newsmagazines and other public radio programs, and published online by Yahoo! News and others. He is the recipient of Hearst journalism awards for radio reporting, as well as an NLGJA/RTNDA award for excellence in online...

Weight program bears fruit for O.C. teen

Published: May 8, 2012 Updated: May 15, 2012 11:05 a.m. For more about the Orange County influence in “The Weight of the Nation” documentary,click here.   Within the span of a year, Angel Hernandez went from eating McDonald’s McSkillets to cooking a healthy breakfast for the film crew shooting an obesity documentary in Santa Ana. Hernandez, 18, lost about 70 pounds with help from Latino Health Access, the nonprofit organization featured throughout the four-part documentary “The Weight of the Nation” that premieres this month on HBO. Angel Hernandez, 18, of Santa Ana lost more than 70 pounds after taking an eight-week class offered by Latino Health Access. He cooked breakfast for the crew filming the HBO documentary “The Weight of the Nation.” COURTNEY PERKES, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER MORE PHOTOS » To demonstrate his transformation, Hernandez prepared refried beans with a little olive oil as well as the Mexican dish chilaquiles, which he made with baked tortillas rather than fried. Chopped melon completed the spread. Hernandez, who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighed 210 pounds when his doctor referred him to an eight-week nutrition and exercise program offered by Latino Health Access. “I’d be eating fast food almost all day,” he said. “I was embarrassed sometimes. I didn’t like how I looked.” Hernandez said he resented having to attend the class. But after a couple weeks he became engrossed, especially after a demonstration measuring out the number of spoonfuls of sugar in soda. He became even more engaged when he started losing weight. By the time the class ended, Hernandez had dropped 20 pounds. He didn’t stop there....

HBO obesity documentary features O.C. Latino health advocate

Published: May 8, 2012 Updated: May 9, 2012 9:17 a.m. The toll an overweight society pays is large, especially for children. For a look at an Orange County teen who lost weight thanks to this program, click here     By COURTNEY PERKES / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER In an HBO documentary airing this month, America Bracho watches as chubby children play on an asphalt parking lot because they have no grassy park in their Santa Ana neighborhood. In another scene, her voice chokes with emotion as she talks with a mother worried about the obesity epidemic. Bracho, executive director of Latino Health Access and a physician in her native Venezuela, is featured prominently throughout the four-part series, “The Weight of the Nation,” which premieres Monday. The series was made in conjunction with the Institute of Medicine and offers an alarming look behind the statistics that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Dr. America Bracho is the Executive Director of Latino Health Access and is among the national experts to be featured in HBO’s four-part series “The Weight of the Nation” about the childhood obesity epidemic. LEONARD ORTIZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER MORE PHOTOS » Obesity by the numbers Some facts from documentary “The Weight of the Nation,” airing on HBO on May 14-15: 10% – Proportion of parents with an obese child who seek medical help $150 billion – Amount spent each year in the U.S. on obesity-related health costs 5% – Proportion of adults who meet the daily guidelines for physical activity 90% – profit margin of soda Information:theweightofthenation.hbo.com She recently discussed the project from her downtown Santa Ana office, as neighborhood mothers attended a...

We’re in the Los Angeles Times

The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on January 2, 2012: LATINO HEALTH ACCESS IS A CHARITY BUILT ON MOXIE AND MASA By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times January 2, 2012 Soon after America Bracho started a health nonprofit in Santa Ana 18 years ago, a student in her diabetes self-management class needed eye screening. He didn’t have enough money to pay for it, so Bracho and the class decided to raise the funds — by selling tamales. The man had the screening, and Bracho had a new motto: We will build a healthy community, even if we have to sell tamales.That motto now guides Bracho, a Venezuelan-born doctor, in her work as president and chief executive of Latino Health Access, an organization with a roughly $3-million budget dedicated to disease prevention and health promotion in underserved communities of Orange County. The organization still holds an annual “tamalada” to raise money for its diabetes patients and its programs, which include breast cancer awareness, domestic violence counseling and exercise classes. Bracho sees firsthand the health problems facing Latinos, many of whom are uninsured and fighting chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. But like an increasing number of public health officials, Bracho doesn’t believe medical care is the primary solution. She said education, prevention and most importantly, participation can have a bigger effect on communities such as Santa Ana.Adapting a model she saw in Venezuela, Bracho, 54, has trained thousands of promotoras, or community workers, to teach their neighbors and friends how to be more healthful — in businesses, homes and schools. Many are diabetics or domestic violence victims who came seeking help themselves.Promotoras don’t need medical...
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