Fighting Poverty with Passion
March was a very exciting month for the Latinx Health Initiative. This project came together as a follow up to the “I Don’t Know Where To Go” health survey report conducted by Puentes New Orleans, CBNO, and the New Orleans Health Department in 2014. This report highlighted many barriers to overall health and wellness facing the local Spanish-speaking community including access to health care services and information, access to recreations and exercise opportunities, access to healthy food and nutritional information, and access to community and neighborhood spaces. In response to the extreme deficit in services targeting the latinx community, Broad community Connections and Committee for a Better New Orleans partnered to modify existing programs at the ReFresh site.
Currently there are a variety of classes offered at the Refresh site. This includes cooking and nutrition classes, gardening classes as well as gardening plots that are open to the community members. Right now, not many of the programs are offered in Spanish. However, it is important that we include the Latinx community in the community services located at the Refresh site. The process of tailoring existing programs so that they are accessible, useful, interesting, and fun to local Spanish speakers has intentionally highlighted the community voice. We have already developed new community partnerships, conducted a teach-in for the grants partners, and held two community focus groups. This process has already been extremely informative and effective in building community and awareness about latinxs in New Orleans.
During the focus group the lack of community and visibility of the local Spanish-speaking community became very apparant. In addition to the lack of health programming, many folks voiced the need for a community walking group or cooking course in order to meet of community members. This process also highlighted the lack of knowledge regarding the latinx identity, why people are coming to the United States, existing programs in Spanish around New Orleans. Therefore our teach-in was a huge step in preparing our program leads to connect with this community as well as direct community members to other services in the city. I am really excited to keep making progress.