Our neighborhood health story: This nonprofit is changing the way south Austin eats
Frances A.’s passion for healthy eating began early. Growing up, she and her family of ten were very poor, and meals were whatever they could grow themselves: corn, cactus, beans and mango. When she moved to the United States and began raising three boys of her own, she discovered it wasn’t so easy to eat the same way. The nearest grocery store was a ten-minute car ride from her home in southeast Austin, TX. And the produce there was expensive – more of a splurge than a staple. Out of convenience, Frances ended up doing much of her shopping at a local corner store. Faced with shelves full of chips, candy and boxed pastas, she found it difficult to make healthy choices...
Our neighborhood health story: Meet the Texas nonprofit that’s transforming a community’s health, one step at a time
...Fed up with the dangerous path and eager to provide her kids with at least two built-in walks a day, [resident leader Mayra Jimenez] and other concerned parents teamed up with GO! Austin/¡VAMOS! Austin (GAVA), a local nonprofit devoted to helping south Austin residents live healthier lives through access to healthy food, physical activity, school health, early childhood and community safety. Its efforts have been boosted by a recent $100,000 Cultivating Healthy Communities grant from the Aetna Foundation...
Local Superheros Promote communities
Have you ever felt the excitement of going to your favorite neighborhood park only to realize the playground is unusable due to it being damaged?
When neighborhood parks are in need of repair in Austin, Texas, community superheroes step in to save the day! They do this by raising awareness directly to city council members and help implement high-priority changes. These superheroes are members of a local non-profit neighborhood organization called, “Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin” (GAVA), whose main mission is to improve the physical health of South Austin neighborhoods…
Estudio revela mejoras en la calidad de vida en el este de Austin
La tarde de este jueves se llevó a cabo una junta comunitaria para hablar sobre los diferentes servicios que existen en el este de Austin para mejorar la calidad de vida en dicha región.
GAVA realiza foro público para informar y concientizar a la comunidad
Go Austin o Vamos Austin (GAVA), el grupo cívico del sureste de nuestra ciudad busca concientizar a los residentes de nuestra ciudad sobre temas sociales como la salud.
El jueves a partir de las 5:30 p.m. GAVA realizará un foro público en la escuela Mendez para informar sobre su labor y las necesidades del barrio.
Designing Place-Based Interventions for Sustainability and Replicability: The Case of GO! Austin/VAMOS! Austin
Place-based health efforts account for the role of the community environment in shaping decisions and circumstances that affect population well-being. Such efforts, rooted as they are in the theory that health is socially determined, mobilize resources for health promotion that are not typically used, and offer a more informed and robust way of promoting health outcomes within a community...
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An Ace Adoption
Big changes are happening to a small park in southeast Austin, thanks to a handful of persistent community members.
Houston School Park, which is adjacent to Josephine Houston Elementary, was recently awarded a $100,000 APF Impact Grant to build a multi-purpose pavilion that will serve both the school and its surrounding neighborhood.
Spearheaded by park adopter and community hero, Gloria Lugo, the project will bring a 2,400 square-foot, covered pavilion that will be used for outdoor learning, wellness activities and community gatherings.
“I went to a lot of meetings,” said Lugo, “and when people were deciding where the money would go, I would always say, ‘What about this way? What about east?’ Every time someone asked if our park needed something, I raised two hands.” (click for full article)
Investing in people: Fostering Relationships for Social Impact
GAVA is made up of people who work shoulder-to-shoulder in neighborhoods to improve access to healthy food and increase the community’s opportunities for physical activity. These are both residents and organizational leaders who share a passion for creating a healthier community. This work has taught us that collaboration is key, and you can find effective partners if you invest in the right leaders, with the right knowledge, at the right time.
Data shows some South Austin residents live with limited accessibility to full-service grocery stores
If her husband is unable to drive her to the nearest full-service grocery store, 78745 resident Gloria Najera said she must walk to purchase healthy, affordable food. The round-trip amounts to approximately one hour on foot.
“When my husband cannot take me to the grocery store, I walk to the Wal-Mart near my house,” she said. “If I want to go to H-E-B or Fiesta, it’s a 30- to 45-minute walk each way. I only purchase what is light and easy to carry...” (click for full article)
Can Austin's YIMBY Movement go from Backyard to Ballot?
“The biggest threat to the sustainability of this work is increasing pressure on cost of living,” says Carmen Llanes Pulido, GAVA executive director and a longtime organizer in the city, which is about one-third Hispanic. “We want to ensure that residents have access to healthy living and don’t get displaced after all the hard work they’ve put in.”
GAVA’s priorities as coalition members is to ensure their communities have a voice in the process, to ensure that CodeNEXT doesn’t simply encourage new development in their neighborhoods, and that anti-displacement measures are central to the conversation... (click for full article)
People + Parks: Aiming High
Steps away from an elementary school, whose mission is to encourage big dreams and possibilities, resides a park that once fell far short of its own potential. But not anymore. Thanks to a tireless group of neighborhood volunteers, Odom School Park in South Austin has seen nearly $45,000 worth of improvements in the last three years — and is working toward even more.
Volunteers Laura Bucaro and Angelica Robles are members of the Odom School Park Team. There are five core members of the group, which also includes Lorena Solis, Jeremy Schwartz and Maria Granjeno. Each member has contributed... (click for full article)
City Council approves plan to improve food access
"When we talk about food access, is there a grocery store close to you? How far away is it? What are the barriers to you getting those fresh fruits and vegetables," explained GAVA Executive Director Carmen Llanes Puldio.
Evita Cruz [GAVA resident leader] knows the dilemma all too well.
"In my corner stores, I cannot find anything to put in my fruit bowl," Cruz said, pointing to an empty fruit bowl on her dining room table.
Cruz lives in Dove Springs, an area with known food deserts and high rates of childhood obesity.
"Our children, they are going to eat what they see. As soon as they walk in the convenience store what do we see? We see alcohol, we see chips," she said.
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Wanted: Big Ideas for Improving Health
...The idea is to match those ideas to data that suggests pressure points in a population’s health, in hopes of addressing those issues that drag on the health of communities. It’s an egalitarian process — everyone who submits an idea gets feedback, regardless of whether a proposal is selected for additional support.
Carmen Llanes Pulido, community director for GO Austin/VAMOS Austin in the city’s Dove Springs neighborhood and a member of the Community Strategy Team, emphasizes the vital role that individuals play in helping to make their communities healthier...
MAP: Most Online Feedback About CodeNEXT Centers on Wealthier Areas
...Earlier this year, GAVA released its own Spanish-language handouts on CodeNEXT. Llanes Pulido said some residents have weighed in at city meetings, and that she hopes verbal comments are given equal weight to written ones. She said not everyone can comment online, especially people who speak other languages.
“I’ve seen cases where only a written comment is given validity, and that’s a 500-year-old trick in terms of marginalizing folks, whether it’s conscious and intentional or completely unintentional and completely unconscious,” she said. “It is a bias.” (click for full article)
Healthier Food Could Come to a Corner Store Near You
Marla Torrado and Felipa Puente are taking a tour of a Texaco station in the Dove Springs community of Austin. The predominantly low-income neighborhood is a far cry from downtown’s flagship Whole Foods Market and the city’s most Instagrammed restaurants. Dove Springs is situated in the southeast part of the city. To social scientists it’s a well-known food desert. There are few restaurants – mostly fast food – and just one large grocery store on the neighborhood’s edge, that’s difficult to reach without a car...
Dando acceso a comida saludable a los residentes de Dove Springs
En el sur y sureste de Austin, hay vecindarios que carecen de un supermercado cercano.
Muchos residentes de Dove Springs tienen que viajar al menos media hora para realizar sus compras.
Es por eso que la organización GO! Austin / ¡VAMOS! Austin o GAVA está trabajando para que las pequeñas tiendas y hasta las gasolineras ofrezcan frutas y verduras, para facilitar el acceso a comida fresca y saludable...
Healthy Choices, Healthy Foods. Local nonprofits plant seeds in South Austin.
...Go! Austin/¡Vamos! Austin focuses its efforts on both the area around Cunningham Elementary – located on Manchaca Road, between Stassney Lane and William Cannon – and neighboring Dove Springs, a predominantly lower-income, Latino neighborhood in Southeast Austin. Nearly 65% of the students at Cunningham are considered economically disadvantaged and receive free or reduced-price school lunches (about average for AISD schools). In 2015, according to the city’s Office of Sustainability, roughly 1 in 4 Dove Springs residents were considered food insecure because they lacked access to enough food for all household members...
Una idea simple, una solución brillante
Hace un par de años, al caer el sol no se escuchaba la alegría de los niños en el parque de la Primaria Houston en el sureste de Austin.
“Había mucho crimen, las personas tenían miedo de venir al parque”, dijo la oficial Paula Aguilar del Departamento de la Policía de Austin.
Al caer la noche en las inmediaciones del plantel, la oscuridad se convertía en la cómplice del vicio y la delincuencia.
“Jeringas las llegamos a encontrar, otras cosas muy feas ahí las llegamos a encontrar aquí, habían muchos..."
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GAVA Austin Collaborative Meeting
In November, the GAVA Austin Health Food Store Initiative held a meeting at the Pleasant Hill Library with collaborators from GAMA, the City of Austin Health and Human Services Department, and Austin City Council staff. The goal was to review... (click for full article)
Communities Rallying for Health
Austin, Texas is widely recognized as one of America’s healthiest cities. Fifty percent of residents live within walking distance of a park and the city has almost three times the national average of green space acreage per 1,000 residents. However, some Austin communities face a real health crisis, struggling with high rates of obesity and diabetes...
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Una Comunidad, Varias Raices
Evita Cruz, al centro, participa en una clase de zumba en Franklin Park en el vecindario de Dove Springs. Cruz lidera el grupo G.A.V.A (GO! Austin / VAMOS! Austin) y esta involucrada en su comunidad al ser perte de Austin Interfaith, Sustainable Food Center, Marathon Kids, y los equipos de Franklin y Dove Sprints Park...
Health-focused group in 78745 submits action plan for approval
A local community organization is finalizing its plan to boost local health, improve access to nutritious foods and target obesity in the 78745 ZIP code.
Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin, or GAVA, held its last planning meeting July 25 before submitting...