As lawmakers and First Lady Michelle Obama implement changes impacting health care and childhood obesity issues across the nation, a South Austin nonprofit continues to tackle these very issues on a local level, as it has been for quite some time now.
El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission, a nonprofit committed to helping low-income families in need of help lead healthy and productive lives, has provided health care services and health and wellness programs to uninsured families living in Central Texas since 1987.
Through its Wallace Mallory Clinic, El Buen Samaritano offers primary and preventative medical services in a welcoming, culturally-competent, and bilingual setting at affordable costs.
“We address the stark health-related figures around low-income Latinos in Austin in a very holistic and cohesive manner,” said Executive Director Victor Azíos. “Through our increasing gynecology, prenatal health, and pediatric services at the Wallace Mallory Clinic, we hope to help entire families by proving them with an appropriate healthcare foundation, which will help them lead healthy and productive lives.”
From pre-kindergarten students learning about nutrition and exercise in the Child Learning Center, to adults taking a Zumba or spinning class as part of the nonprofit organization’s Exercise Program, El Buen Samaritano takes its task to help entire families very seriously.
Two years ago, El Buen Samaritano launched a seven-week recreational health and fitness program for children and, after much positive feedback from the participants’ families, the organization resolved to expand it to include the entire family.
Consequently, the organization gave rise to the Family Health and Fitness Program, a series of fun and recreational family activities designed to encourage children and their families to get healthy through health education and exercise during a period of eight weeks.
Well on its way into a second eight-week session, the organization began witnessing great positive results. “Having dropped several pounds in only two months, the participants couldn’t wait for the second session to start,” said Veronica Saldate, nutritionist at El Buen Samaritano. “I believe we owe this success to having all the right ingredients in the mix. A combination of nutritional consultations, professional physical conditioning coaching, and an outlet which allows for peer encouragement and quality family time, has proven to be an optimal recipe for combating childhood obesity within our client population,” Saldate said.
With the health of its clients in mind, El Buen Samaritano hopes to enhance this program and increase its impact by providing five consecutive nine-week sessions to help 130 children and their families next year through a program called En Forma y En Familia (In Shape, Among Family), which would also incorporate a mental health component.
In addition to helping families lead healthy lives, El Buen Samaritano offers a robust list of education programs designed to help children succeed in school while their parents attain marketable job skills.
For more information about the organization or for information on how to support El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission, visit www.elbuen.org.By Ivan Davila