The Dolores Huerta Foundation works to create healthy environments where people can live, work, and play. We understand health and environment as intrinsically linked. As such, we train community residents to advocate for parks, adequate public transportation, infrastructure improvements, the reduction of pesticide use, increased recreational opportunities, and culturally relevant services.
DHF partners with environmental organizations and agencies to educate residents on environmental hazards and safe green alternatives. We understand that for individuals to thrive, they need to be equipped with tools to make healthy dietary and behavioral decisions.
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Building Healthy Communties (BHC) is a 10 year program of the California Endowment. 14 communities across the state are taking action to make where they live healthier. We’re doing this by improving employment opportunities, education, housing, neighborhood safety, unhealthy environmental conditions, access to healthy foods and more. The goal is to create places where children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn.
Since 2009 DHF has been an active member of the South Kern Building Healthy Communities initiative. In addition to our involvement in South Kern, the DHF provides technical assistance and training to other communities participating in the BHC initiative. By training organizations to leverage an active base, the DHF is building a stronger California.
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Vecinos Unidos and the DHF Youth Leadership Group organize neighborhood clean-ups, setting an example for their neighbors to take pride in the community. In 2008, DHF was the first official partner of Keep Kern Roads Clean. DHF issued a challenge for other organizations to join in this partnership with the county.
One of the biggest clean up days in our community is the day after 4th of July. Every year residents volunteer to clean up debris from fireworks and the previous day’s festivities.
Community Clean Ups are a great way for Vecinos to demonstrate commitment to their communities.
PICTUED ABOVE: Vecinos from Weedpatch strike a pose around bags of trash they collected in their community.
PICTURED ABOVE: Resident volunteers gather after a community cleanup in Arvin.
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In May 2011, Vecinos Unidos were educated and trained on how to maintain Relaciones Sanas (Healthy Relationships) in families. The twenty two graduates included residents from Lamont, Arvin, Greeenfield, and Buttonwillow (pictured left).
This “train the trainer” program teaches participants to identify and prevent all forms of domestic violence including verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. A self defense workshop was also included. Once participants graduate, they are charged with the mission of sharing their knowledge with neighbors, family members, and other members of Vecinos Unidos.
The training they received expands the myopic view of domestic violence beyond spousal abuse to include abuses amongst parents and children, siblings, and non-married couples. Through these educational trainings, the DHF is working to end the cycle of abuse and creating healthier and safer environments for families. DHF partners with MALDEF on this project.
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In Kern and Tulare Counties, Vecinos Unidos efforts have resulted in millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements. Many streets now have curbs and sidewalks. Two public swimming pools have been renovated and constructed. Stop signs at dangerous intersections have been installed and a number of street lights have been added or fixed.
Twenty six residents in Weedpatch will be receiving a new sewer drain pipe at a low cost to homeowners.
Vecinos are trained to organize their neighborhoods, gather petitions, and press their local representatives for needed improvements in their communities. These victories are tangible examples of how the DHF organizing model can build natural grassroots leadership to enact positive changes through an organized base.
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The Dolores Huerta Foundation organizes communities that face critical exposure to pesticides through their work in the fields and the proximity of their residence to them. These environmental toxins have adverse effects on resident health and the environment. As such, DHF advocates against the use of harmful pesticides whenever possible. We seek sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural policy.
Methyl Iodide: Our most recent work on this front sought to ban Methyl Iodide, a California Proposition 65 carcinogen, causing thyroid, brain, and cervical tumors in laboratory animals. It is a neurotoxicant, and moderate exposures can cause permanent neuro-motor and cognitive damage. The banning of Methyl Iodide is an ongoing project.
AB1963: DHF played an instrumental role in the passage of “The Farmworker Health Act” AB1963, which was signed into law September 27, 2010. This law protects farm workers from pesticide poisoning before it occurs, and will lead to workplace safety improvements, ensuring long-term protections to farm workers and their families. AB 1963 (Nava) improves the pesticide poisoning prevention program by having laboratories send test results electronically that can be shared with state agencies which can then provide medical and toxicological support for local doctors and officials working to mitigate contamination.[/ppmtoggle][ppmtoggle title=”Sugary Drink Campaign”]
DHF is conducting a Sugary Drink Campaign to reduce the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages in the communities where we organize. This is a targeted approach towards addressing obesity and other health issues related to diet such as diabetes.
In August 2011, over 30 parents graduated from a six week training course to discuss the dangers of sugar sweetened beverages with their children and governing bodies such as school boards. These parents will join their respective School Wellness Committees to revise and implement School Wellness Policies.
DHF has developed a task force of partners that shares in our vision of reducing the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages within our communities. Current partners include California Project Lean, the Arvin Family Resource Center, Arvin School District, Building Healthy Communities, & Kern County Department of Health. Together, we work to increase parent engagement around the issue of sugar sweetened beverage consumption, especially within schools.