Promotora activity improves Palomas public health

bicycle rodeo

Palomas youth jumped at the challenge of completing a bicycle rodeo course organized by the promotoras.

Our Palomas promotoras (health promoters) are working almost nonstop with activities designed to improve various aspects of public health. Their enthusiasm runs high, and the town responds enthusiastically to a slate of activities that improve the quality of life. Here’s a snapshot look at some of their recent accomplishments:

Spring Health Fair

food at fair

Folks devoured the healthy burritos prepared by the promotoras.

Our new Sports Center site held the promotoras Spring Health Fair event on April 14. The event included healthy food, activities and fun.

Promotoras distributed their healthy burritos, along with popcorn and fruit–with ingredients provided by the COBINA/Binational Health Commission).

The 250 attendees received, free of any charges:

  • flu shots for adults and
  • vaccinations for children,
  • rabies vaccine for dogs and even
  • personal haircuts.

The local gardeners also participated in the fair, distributing tomato seedlings and lots of vegetable seeds to attendees. Soccer and volleyball games during the event provided healthy activity for adults and children.

Bicycle Rodeo and Family Ride

Gran Bicicleteada

Flier advertises the first spring family bike ride.

On April 17, the promotoras organized their first Bike Rodeo for local kids. The event gave our youth a chance to ride their bikes over a dirt course with bumps, twists and jumps–even a water hazard! Not only does this provide healthy exercise, the event also promotes positive community involvement and positive interactions with local adults.

On April 21, promotoras slated their first family bicycle ride of the season. The public was invited to meet at Ford School at 6 PM to launch another spring fun ride. This family-friendly event gets the community together for active, healthy fun. Many participants use bicycles that Border Partners supporters have donated for the town’s use.

Nutrition Classes & More

Bean distribution

Bean distribution

Promotoras also prepared and conducted six nutrition classes each month this year as part of the HEAL grant we received from the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation. They offer a continuing class for 40 women who attend one session each month.  The course started in January with classes on the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. February’s focus was healthy grains. March lessons considered the value of dairy products, and April’s classes took on the necessity of protein.

Thanks to a donation of a 2,000 pound bag of dried pinto beans from family-owned Diaz Farms in Deming, NM,  the promotoras were able to deliver 20 pound bags of beans to 85 needy seniors and other families in Palomas. These recipients were grateful for this tremendous supplement to their diets.

In addition to special activities, health promoters provide regular office hours to the residents of Palomas. In a donated storefront space, their office is open from 9AM-12 PM, Monday through Friday. They offer free health checks and information. The promotoras also hold regularly scheduled meetings there to plan their activities, discuss their services and coordinate their programming in Palomas.

Health promotoras educate Palomas residents about nutrition

nutrition class

Nutrition classes offer participants meals that highlight nutrition basics. This class ends with a healthy meal that participants make and share.

For several years, the gardeners and health promotoras in Palomas saw a need to offer nutrition classes to educate residents in Palomas. Understanding why it’s important to eat certain foods provides reason and motivation to eat them. This educational component became even more important as the gardens in Palomas flourished. We noticed that people didn’t always know how to use the new foods they had available.

Now a grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation has made it possible for our health promotoras to offer nutrition classes for 40 families this year. They use a curriculum called  Eating Smart Being Active developed by faculty in the Extension Divisions at Colorado State University at Fort Collins and the University of California, Davis.  The curriculum includes eight lessons, seven of which the promotoras use. (One lesson, developed specifically for people who shop in regular supermarkets with sales, doesn’t apply to our situation.)

The curriculum provides a teacher’s handbook in Spanish and participant handouts.  Our six promotoras have divided the lessons among themselves. Teams of two each teach two lessons.

esba logoCurriculum topics include lessons centered on:

  • eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy,
  • the importance of choosing lean protein, and
  • limiting sugar and fat in the diet.

Each lesson includes an exercise break and teaches people about the importance of getting regular exercise.  Students also get a chance to taste different foods and in some lessons to make a healthy dish.

The curriculum is designed to encourage student participation with the hope that will give people ideas about how to incorporate the changes into their lives. When classes are interactive and directly relevant, it makes the learning practical.

In addition to offering the Eating Smart Being Active curriculum, the promotoras teach many other classes on health topics. Besides offering other nutrition classes, they offer instruction on other topics, covering subjects ranging from self-esteem and stress management to family planning, personal hygiene, and accident prevention. Promotoras implement this curriculum, developed by the Mexican government, in conjunction with the government health clinic in Palomas. Low income families who receive a bimonthly food allotment are required to complete the classes in that series.

Palomas health promotoras open a new office

new office

Promotoras of health in Palomas, a grassroots corps of community volunteers to improve health, have opened a new office, providing a permanent presence. They provide health services such as blood pressure monitoring, as seen here.

The community health promoters (promotoras) of Puerto Palomas have opened an office to serve as their headquarters as well as an office from which they will serve the public. Centrally located in Palomas, the office allows the promotoras to offer regular office hours to the public. Promotoras will provide health services of blood sugar monitoring and blood pressure testing and provide health information there. All services and information are free of charge.

The new promotora office is clean, attractive and outfitted with health equipment and literature. Tables and chairs offer an environment conducive to health education meetings. With a computer and printer, the promotoras are able to produce documents and administrate their program. For a virtual tour of the new health office, visit our photo set on Flickr.

posting signIn a small community like Palomas, word of mouth will quickly spread the news of this new source of health assistance, consultation and first aid. However the promotoras also proactively engaged local artist Dagoberto Rodriguez to produce a display sign to clearly designate their office. We were on the scene to see the sign installed.

The promotoras designed a plan of action for 2014 which outlines their ambitious goals and upcoming activities. Ongoing fundraising will let them carry out their projects and potentially add internet service to their office. Promotoras seek that ongoing financial support from the Palomas business community.

The promotoras have also done a remarkable job of securing the contributions of pro bono services for Palomas children in need from local dentists and opticians.

The Columbus Luna County Palomas Binational Health Council (COBINA) provides major funding for the promotoras activities in Palomas.  Border Partners supplements that funding by matching the contributions that the promotoras themselves raise in Palomas. Border Partners is proud to provide financial help to underwrite these activities that improve public health. Donations to Border Partners that are designated to further the promotoras‘ work are welcome.