Regular physical activity is associated with positive health outcomes across the lifespan. In addition to decreasing people’s risk of chronic disease, physical activity can improve cognitive function in youth, reduce anxiety and depression risk and improve sleep, and reduce the risk of fall-related injuries in older adults. The Health Foundation’s stake in physical activity began in the early 2000s with Walk El Paso. More recently, the Health Foundation constructed the Playa Drain Trail and is partnering with regional stakeholders for the development of the Paso del Norte Trail network. Other areas of emphasis include the promotion of physical activity through educational programs, campaigns, and trail and park use.
Alamogordo Critter Trail
The Desert Critters Trail in Alamogordo, New Mexico was made possible with support from the City of Alamogordo, Otero Health Council Healthy Eating Active Living team, and funding from the Health Foundation. The trail offers residents an outdoor family activity to learn about local nature. The trail highlights 19 indigenous species of animals on stone monuments hidden throughout the park for people to locate as part of a scavenger hunt.
A high-quality diet with appropriate daily caloric intake provides essential nutrients, helps people maintain a healthy weight, and decreases their risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and some forms of cancer. Evidence clearly associates healthy eating with better health outcomes. However, many people do not consume the daily recommended levels of nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables, that make up a healthy diet. The Health Foundation’s focus in the Healthy Eating initiative is educational programs, such as nutrition and cooking classes, that influence behaviors in selecting, preparing, cooking, and eating healthy foods and policy/promotion activities that encourage healthy eating.
Common Threads is a nonprofit organization that works to equips children and families in under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious, and appealing food choices where they live, work, learn, and play. In 2021, Common Threads provided cooking classes to children and families in the Tornillo Independent School District to help them learn to make affordable, nutritious, and delicious meals at home. During the pandemic, programs were shifted to an online/virtual format, giving families the opportunity to learn how to make and enjoy healthy home-cooked meals together.
La Semilla Food Center
La Semilla Food Center’s Edible Education program engages students in a hands-on experience growing and cooking fruits and vegetables. One aspect of La Semilla’s school programming is Family Cooking Nights. In collaboration with Ngage NM, students receive a kid-safe knife to practice chopping and cooking vegetables with adult supervision. During the pandemic, Family Cooking Nights shifted to a virtual format, allowing La Semilla to bring Edible Education right into people’s homes. In addition to the abrupt necessity for home cooking, cooking meals at home became healthier and less expensive than eating at restaurants.
Smoke/Vape-Free Paso del Norte
The use of electronic cigarettes and youth vaping has overtaken smoking and has significantly increased among high school students. Science confirms that nicotine negatively affects the adolescent brain and is addictive. E-cigarette use among youth is linked with the use of other tobacco products as well as alcohol and marijuana abuse. The Health Foundation’s Smoke/Vape-Free Paso del Norte Initiative seeks to prevent and reduce the use of vaping devices through education and outreach to parents, teachers, and youth.
The Health Foundation partnered with EFO Media in 2021 to produce and promote materials designed to educate parents and teachers around the identification of vaping devices and to provide information to help parents talk to their children about the dangers of vaping.
Studies show that afterschool programs have a wide-ranging benefit for children including boosting academic performance, improving social skills, creating a positive environment for children to learn and grow, promoting health, and encouraging good habits. The Health Foundation’s Healthy Kids Initiative aims to engage disconnected youth ages 5-17 who are not involved in out-of-school activities, are not employed, and who do not have a trusted adult in their lives.
FEMAP/SADEC in Cd. Juárez works to improve the health of children and families across Cd. Juárez – from providing critical health services to important community programs. In 2021, FEMAP/SADEC offered its National Dance Institute of NY (NDI)-inspired program-ValorArte - during afterschool hours to promote self-esteem, creative thinking, tolerance and respect for diversity, discipline, sense of belonging, teamwork, and the desire to learn. With the COVID-19 pandemic, lessons were online using virtual platforms such as Vimeo, Facebook, and WhatsApp. At the end of the grant cycle, youth showcased what they learned through video and photography.
Organization Grant List
Action for Healthy Kids - $52,500.00
Living Healthy and Tobacco Free: A coordinated approach to tobacco/vape free schools
Arbol de Vida - $145,807.35
Arbol de Vida’s HEAL Program
Border Partners - $122,882.00
Healthy Eating and Active Living in Palomas, Mexico
Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council - $42,868.37
Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces, Inc. - $129,794.90
More Teens, More Often
Canutillo Independent School District - $24,777.50
CATCH the Eagles, if you can!
Centro de Asesoría y Promoción Juvenil, A.C. - $144,375.00
Formando Adolescentes Saludables en Entornos Positivos
City of Socorro - $46,156.22
Socorro Youth In Culture Program (SY!C)
Ciudadanos Comprometidos con la Paz, A.C. - $68,963.72
Common Threads - $18,079.00
Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Education for Tornillo Youth and Families
Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico - $209,079.30
“Kids Can” Youth Entrepreneur Program
Creative Kids, Inc. - $90,435.00
Project ABLE (Art Brokers Learning Experiences)
Desert Spoon Food Hub - $49,145.00
Tasters – Expanding Food Education Among School-Aged Children
El Paso Diabetes Association, Inc. - $13,530.00
Sabrosa Vida Cooking Classes
El Pasoans Fighting Hunger - $55,367.00
Converting El Paso Food Pantries to Client Choice Model
Families and Youth, Inc. - $46,423.09
The Learn and Play (LAP) Project
Fundación del Empresariado Chihuahuense, A.C. - $20,692.01
Shift Positive – I Make Good Decisions campaign
Fundación Pedro Zaragoza Vizcarra A.C. - $26,080.23
Programa de Atención Nutricional Para Niños En Cd. Juárez
Kelly Memorial Food Pantry - $171,171.00
La Semilla Food Center - $347,056.05
Edible Education and Community Education
Organización Popular Independiente, A.C. - $167,974.51
Superando el desafío: Regimen plant-based y actividades de movimento
Niños, Niñas y Jóvenes en Acción: Actividades Extraescolares con Influencia Positiva
Otero Soil and Water Conservation District - $4,932.50
Desert Critters Trail
Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center – $108,562.66
Off to a Good Start: Eating Our Way to a Healthy Life
Salud y Desarrollo Comunitario de Cd. Juárez, A.C. - $170,538.50
Conectando con ValorArte y FEMAP en Conexión
Texas A&M University - $187,855.85
More Counts/Más Cuenta
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston - $233,351.50
Primary Care Obesity Management: System Integration for La Clínica de Familia
United Way of El Paso County - $316,025.50
Healthy Kids Backbone Organization
Healthy Living program-related service contracts - $539,215.29