The Prospect Park YMCA is one of 48 YMCAs nationwide selected to receive a grant from the Kraft Foods Foundation to implement Salsa, Sabor y Salud (Food, Fun and Fitness), a national healthy lifestyles program for Hispanic/Latino families.
Developed by the National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI) and Kraft Foods, Salsa, Sabor y Salud is designed to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition, increase levels of physical activity and encourage healthy lifestyle habits for the whole family.
The Prospect Park YMCA is incorporating the curriculum into existing Y after-school programs. “Promoting healthy lifestyles is critical to our commitment to health and well-being, and Salsa, Sabor y Salud is one of the ways we’re delivering on that commitment,” said Rhonda Jordan, president of Global Health & Wellness at Kraft Foods.
According to the American Medical Association, 38.2 percent of Hispanic children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared with 31.7 percent of all children in this age group.
The eight-week interactive, bilingual course promotes healthy living while celebrating Hispanic/Latino tradition and culture. The curriculum is based on four messages:
• Eat from all food groups every day
• Be sensible about portions
• Be physically active every day
• Take small steps for success
Derick Martinez, site coordinator for Prospect Park Y Afterschool Program, whose site, P.S. 124, participated in the program, has already seen the benefits in his community. “Salsa Sabor y Salud has provided us with a great opportunity to engage and empower families to make healthier choices,” Martinez said. “The kids are so eager to take what they’ve learned and bring it home to their parents and siblings. This program is really something our participants are rallying around, as a family.”
“On the first day, we decorated plates with pictures of our favorite foods,” said 8-year-old participant, Jhasmin, who had filled her plate with chips and candy and a TV dinner. “Now I eat things like carrots, broccoli, lettuce and fruits. Did you know that we should eat from EVERY food group every day? I told my parents about that.”