October 11, 2022

Structured Physical Activity icon Structured Physical Activity

Kaleah was a cheery 11-year-old who loved spending time with her family, but when I first met her in the clinic during her annual check-up, she was depressed and suffering from childhood obesity.

I learned that Kaleah’s 17-year-old brother, who she idolized, and was a standout player on his high school baseball team, had recently suffered a stroke. He was in therapy relearning how to walk and talk. When the doctors explained to Kaleah and her parents that the stroke was probably connected to her brother’s diet and weight, Kaleah became doubly concerned.

At home there always seemed to be a pot of frijoles with carne on the stove and fresh, homemade tortillas. Kaleah’s Abuela loved to spoil them with soda and encouraged them to drink tall glasses of orange juice or ‘liquado,’ which was rich with whole milk. Kaleah wondered if this could have caused her brother’s stroke and wanted to help improve her family’s health.

I connected Kaleah to free nutrition and healthy lifestyle classes offered by Santa Cruz County’s migrant education program. Kaleah was a sponge! She not only attended every class, but she began researching how to read nutrition labels. She made it her mission to work on eating healthy, buying healthy food and getting regular exercise…not just for herself, but for her whole family, and especially for her recovering brother. In addition, I connected Kaleah and her family to the ParkRx program of Santa Cruz County with Friends of County Parks. The ParkRx program promotes equitable access to parks and outdoor spaces as a way to improve the...

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