One of the great things about Latino culture is the food—who doesn’t like pan dulce, sopes or tamales? Unfortunately, all that culinary yumminess is also one of the reasons why Latinos have such a high obesity and diabetes rate. That doesn’t mean we need to give it all up…after all, food is as much part of our culture as our music, our family bonds, our language and our rocky relationship with punctuality. With the right mix of moderation and exercise, we can still fully enjoy our tortas and chilaquiles.
But getting off the couch and exercising is much easier said than done, particularly in communities where gyms aren’t available or are unaffordable to many. Such is the case in many of the Latino communities in Placer County. That’s where the Latino Leadership Council, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, stepped in to help.
Through the Latino Leadership Council’s promotoras (community health workers) project, we are offering free exercise classes in Auburn. And we have to infuse our cultural flavor into everything we do, so what we’re offering are Zumba classes, and we’re shaking and dancing our way to better health.
Every week more than a dozen Hispanic women come to the class to move to the Latin beats, get some exercise and spend some time with good friends. But something very special happens. As the women start getting into shape and learning more about the value of an active lifestyle, they take that back to their families and neighborhoods. We’re hearing from more and more of the participants who have started taking their families for walks or engaging them in other healthy activities. The impact spreads far beyond the room where these women meet with promotoras and share a fun activity.
In a community where barriers like lack of health insurance, language issues, and socioeconomic challenges make it difficult for individuals and families to have access to necessary health services, the habits, nutritional information and camaraderie they get at the Zumba classes and from the promotoras goes a long way toward helping people achieve and retain wellness and reduce the need for those hard to access services.
Plus, it’s fun, it builds community bonds and it empowers women to take actions that benefit them and their families. And that’s at the heart of the promotora project and the work of the Latino Leadership Council.
The Zumba classes have been getting some good local attention:
We look forward to growing the Zumba program and finding other ways to engage Latinos in our community and help address the health, social and challenges issues they face. To learn more about the Latino Leadership Council’s Zumba program or to learn how to help or participate, contact Elisa Herrera or Maria Cordova at (530) 320-5353. We would love to see this program spread throughout Placer County and beyond.