The Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department has launched a program aimed at improving the health and minds of young people living in Doña Ana County’s colonia communities.
The summer program, funded through a $43,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, utilizes community-based promotoras to improve children’s health and education. The program will enhance children’s understanding of health, expand their knowledge of the communities around them, and help to grow their social connections.
According to Health and Human Services Director Silvia Sierra, the summer engagement program also includes a free, healthy lunch.
“It’s difficult to help grow healthy minds without proper nutrition,” Sierra said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to help provide such a valuable resource to the families in our border colonias.”
The grant will specifically help to expand Doña Ana County’s current summer lunch program to include middle and high school youth and families who already attend the summer lunch program at six Doña Ana County Community Resource Centers.
The program will focus on activities that teach young people about healthy lifestyles, proper hydration, physical activity, safety, anti-bullying practices and techniques, emotions and media literacy. Program staff will also provide physical activities at the resource centers along with periodical field trips and civic engagement opportunities.
“The program expands the experiences of our young people and gives them positive interactions during the summer months, when they have more free time,” Sierra said.
At the completion of the summer program, a graduation ceremony will be held at the Doña Ana County Government Center, followed by a tour and an opportunity to meet and interview county staff and elected officials.
To date, the Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department has distributed 3,259 summer lunches. More than 50 middle and high school students participate in the program each day.