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growing healthy families and communities:

Building Leadership Capacity with Latino parents

Presentation Language: English

Interpretation Available from English to Spanish


Latinos are disproportionately impacted by obesity and related chronic diseases.  The burdens of these diseases are compounded by socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental factors.   For low-income Oregon Latinos, financial constraints and neighborhood conditions increase food insecurity and limit access to healthy foods and safe places to exercise. Garfield Elementary School in Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon is located near a Department of Human Service’s high-poverty hotspot, it has the school district’s highest free and reduced lunch rate and Latino/Hispanic student population. As one of two Spanish/English language dual-immersion elementary schools in Corvallis, it has become a magnet school for higher income/educated monolingual English speaking families. This project engaged emerging Latino leaders and residents with the wider community and increased capacity for improving the local healthy eating and active living environment and health inequities that exist in Corvallis.  Garfield Spanish speaking Latino parents were mobilized through participatory research to assess what helps/hinders their families from eating healthy and being physically active using a photographic/GPS tool (Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys (MAPPS™). This documentation of environmental supports or barriers to healthy lifestyles in the Corvallis community was shared through community conversations.  These conversations helped explain diverse experiences of the neighborhood context as influencers of behavioral choices with respect to resource availability, accessibility and affordability.  In addition, community readiness was determined to address barriers to healthy lifestyles and environmental influences on population health. This project provided an opportunity for parents to strengthen their leadership and advocacy skills.  It was also an opportunity for parents to feel ownership over their neighborhood and be proud of the work and be an integral part of this process. Through their participation and generosity, they provided new knowledge to community stakeholders and decision makers and prioritized actionable policy, systems and environmental strategies to improve local conditions.

Learning Objectives:

  • Objective 1:

    • Participants will learn how Healthy Eating and Active Living MAPPS tools can engage and empower underserved audiences to assess their environments.

  • Objective 2:

    • Participants will learn about grassroots efforts to build leadership capacity with Latino families.

  • Objective 3:

    • Participants will learn what helps and hinders Garfield Elementary School Latino families to eat healthy and be physical activity.


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TINA dodge vera

Instructor, Nutrition Education Program

Oregon State University Extension Service Linn & Benton Counties

Tina Dodge Vera has worked in Linn and Benton County for OSU Extension Service for over 14 years.  She coordinates two low-income nutrition education programs (SNAP-Ed and EFNEP), conducts SNAP Outreach, and provides a Health Equity Lens to her Family and Community Health Programs.  She has a personal and professional commitment to ensure families are well served and their needs are being met in the community.

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rocio muñoz

Equity and Inclusion Policy Analyst,

Benton County Health Department

Rocío Muñoz has worked at the Benton County Health Department for over 10 years doing diversity, equity, and inclusion work, organizing and mobilizing the Latino community to participate in public health policy, system and environmental change. Rocio has been actively involved in various city, county and community coalition efforts continuing to advocate for culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and engagement services, and serves as a cultural broker between agencies and the region’s diverse Latino community. Rocio has a professional and personal interest in continuing to build a stronger relationship with and build capacity of emerging community leaders of Linn-Benton counties to continue impacting health policy and advocacy initiatives.

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karina goicochea

SNAP-Ed Education Program Assistant

Oregon State University Extension Service, Benton County

Karina has a B.S. in Public Health from Oregon State University and is currently working on her MPH in Health Promotion and Health Behavior, candidate 2019. She has been with Linn-Benton OSU Extension Service since 2017.  She has completed previous internships with the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council, Samaritan Health Services, OSU Extension in Tillamook County, and the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative where she has worked on a variety of projects to promote health and safety among the Latino community in Oregon.

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mac gillespie

Health Communities Policy Analyst,

Benton County Health Department

Mac Gillespie has worked for the last 10 years at the Benton County Health Department as the Healthy Communities Coordinator.  The Healthy Communities program focuses on policy and built environment changes to create healthy environments for Benton County communities.  Mac is also the president of the Garfield Elementary School PTA where he focuses on community building, family inclusion, and capacity building to create a stronger, more vibrant community.

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