Oregon Renters Lead the Way to Safe, Stable and Healthy Homes

 A crowd, led by children holding a Community Alliance of Tenants banner, marches in support of tenant protections. Many people hold signs with messages promoting stable housing.

Change should always be led by the people who will be most impacted by it. Solutions work better for everyone when they are created by the communities that need them the most. It’s the curb-cut effect.

For example, everyone in our region — Oregon and Southwest Washington — has been affected by the affordable housing crisis. Even homeowners feel the impact when neighbors, coworkers and employees, their children’s classmates, teachers, caregivers and countless other community members suffer the stress of housing instability. Housing instability impacts all of us. But who is most impacted? Who should lead the way in confronting this problem?

According to Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT), low-income tenants — mainly, people of color, families with children, low-wage workers, people with disabilities and seniors. Which is why CAT is partnering with a number of organizations to advance tenant protections this legislative session.

 A woman holds a drooling toddler with curly black hair.

Across our region, increased demand for housing has led to rent hikes and no-cause evictions. Too many families find themselves houseless, priced out of their cities and towns, sleeping on friends’ couches, in cars and shelters, even on the street. Without a safe place to call home, they struggle to keep their jobs, feed their kids and get them to school.

Families who haven’t been evicted are too scared to ask their landlords for necessary repairs and improvements; they’re afraid of retaliation. Meanwhile, their children suffer from “slum housing disease” due to unhealthy living conditions.

Their fear is warranted. Families with small children, especially from immigrant and refugee communities face higher barriers to quality housing, and they’re more vulnerable to discrimination, retaliation and involuntary displacement.

 A woman sits with three young children at a Stable Homes for Oregon Families listening session.

CAT members, as well as their majority-tenant board of directors, identified no-cause evictions and lifting the ban on rent-stabilization as their top priorities. So CAT responded by convening the Stable Homes for Oregon Families Coalition, a group of over 75 organizations advocating for the 40% of Oregonians who rent their homes. CAT also initiated the Tenant Leadership Council, composed of parents of color to lead the #JustCauseBecause campaign this legislative session.

The Tenant Leadership Council spent time helping shape House Bill 2004, vetting it against their experiences, and mobilizing their fellow tenants to participate in various actions, including phone banking, visiting their legislators, hosting rallies and supporting civic engagement opportunities for renters. They also coordinated lobby days at the Oregon State Capitol and developed and presented testimony in support of the bill. On February 4, they packed a listening session with 250 people, and 20 legislators and their staff attended to hear residents from all over Oregon share their stories. On April 30, they plan to pack another listening session in Eugene. 

 Oregon tenants and legislators fill several round tables at a listening session for Stable Homes for Oregon Families.

Thanks to the leadership of low-income Oregon tenants, we trust #JustCauseBecause and #RentStabilization are the best choices for our state. We may not end the affordable housing crisis with these two bills, but we will reduce stress and fear, mitigate displacement and ensure renters feel supported enough to demand healthy living conditions. And everyone in our region will benefit because of it.

Community Alliance of Tenants is one of Northwest Health Foundation's Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partners.

Oregon Active Schools: Henry L Slater Elementary School

This blog is the sixth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 
 Students play with colorful streamers in a school hallway. 

HERE'S WHAT Henry L Slater Elementary STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Q. What makes your school special?

Kindergartener: That our school keeps us safe, and we are respectful and responsible.

1st Grader: Other kids and myself helping each other. We help clean up our classroom and our school.

2nd Grader: My friends and teachers make this school special.

3rd Grader: Our school is special because everybody is friendly. The students in my class and my teacher is very nice. They always share.

4th Grader: Our school is special, because we don't have that many kids so it's easier to work. Our class is small, and so that gives me more time to be with the teacher to understand things. My teacher gives me options of where to sit to learn better.

 

Q. What is your favorite part of recess or PE?

Kindergartener: My favorite part is doing superhero moves in PE. We lift our legs and stretch our arms. I loved Temple of Doom. You get to play a lot and it's kind of exercising.

1st Grader: My favorite part of PE is when we exercise. I like stretching.

2nd Grader: My favorite part of recess is tetherball, because I like hitting the ball and winning.

 A student wearing a pirate bandana wields a styrofoam noodle.

3rd Grader: My favorite part of PE is getting to do the stretches. This unit in PE you listen to music and do hula-hoops, step aerobics and stretches like exercising.  I like this unit more than Temple of Doom, because you get to listen to music. At recess I like hanging out with my friends.

4th Grader: My favorite part of recess is practicing volleyball, because I am getting better at it. I really like the assemblies and a lot of things in PE. I especially like Temple of Doom and the Pirates of the Caribbean.  I like getting my energy up, and the obstacles are fun to do. 

 

Q. Why are exercise and play important?

Kindergartenr: It will make our body healthier and make you skinnier.

1st Grader: Exercise is important, because it helps your heart go and it gives you energy.

2nd Grader: Exercising is important, because you need oxygen for your body.  Exercising keeps you healthy, helps you do more stuff, and you can go places.

3rd Grader: Exercise is important, because you can get fit and be healthy.

4th Grader: Exercise and play are important, because they help you not get overweight and it helps you stay healthy.

 

HERE'S WHAT Henry L Slater Elementary STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

 Colorful exercise equipment is spread throughout a school gym.

Q. What makes your school and students special?

Sarika Mosley, Principal: Our school is incredibly special, because we have parents, students and teachers who care about every part of our students’ day. We strive hard to provide the necessary academics and differentiate our lesson so that every child’s ability is met. We have a wonderful group of teachers that know our students and parents well, that want to make a difference in their lives. We have one of the best playgrounds I have seen, with detailed blacktop games that Mrs. Herauf spray paints every summer.  She teaches our students in the Fall how to play at each blacktop activity. We provide our students Music and PE every other day, and we also have a computer lab and a librarian that provide additional access to our students.

Alice Herauf, PE Teacher: Our school is special because we offer so many neat things for our students. We have specialists for music, PE, and after-school programs such as volleyball and kinder basketball.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: Being a small community we have a unique and mixed population within our schools. One common thread is our love for our community, especially the youth. We have a long tradition of excellence and quality in our extracurricular activities. To achieve this a love and foundation has been laid beginning in the elementary school. We teach these kids knowing that many will go all through school in this district and eventually return to the community.

Tori Fenton, 3rd Grade Teacher: Our staff and students show respect to each other, try hard, are eager in their learning and always give 100%.

 

Q. How did your school use your Oregon Active Schools grant?

Alice Herauf, PE Teacher: We incorporated Brain Games. Before a test, when they [the kids] get antsy, or days when they don’t have PE, we have these active activities for students. We have three types of Brain Games for students: cooperation, cardiovascular and spatial awareness. We differentiate for indoor and outdoor. They enhance PE and classroom activities.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: We have put up activities around the school that we call "Brain Games." These activities can be used for additional exercise, a brain break, ease transitions, inside recess, or other academic activities that need a large motor activity to accompany them. For example, in kindergarten we use the scarves, rings of fire, tops and other games to build excitement with math and counting. The students are also getting physical activity and working on motor skills as they are practicing their math.

 
 Students stand in and around a grid spray painted on a blacktop.

Q. What changes have you seen in your school since your school became an "Active School?"

Sarika Mosley, Principal: I see students engaged in indoor activities with their teachers during hallways transitions and bathroom breaks. I see students working together in pairs and individually trying to do their best with balancing, coordination and activating different parts of their brains. This is especially helpful during our months of snow fall when our outdoor equipment is inaccessible.

Alice Herauf, PE Teacher: Our students are becoming more fit with 5-1-1-0. They are more engaged in games instead of getting into behavior issues.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: The most obvious change is the access to equipment and physical activities that before were only accessible to the PE teacher. With 30 stations available at any time to any class the option for giving kids a mental break and quick exercise/energy boost throughout the day is a major change. Instead of a recess, kids can be involved in an active game or challenge. Another positive change is where the games are strategically placed. The placement allows teachers to use the games in times of transition to eliminate standing around and waiting. Instead they can be involved in a Brain Game.

Tori Fenton, 3rd Grade Teacher: Our students are more aware of how they can use their brains and bodies in connection. They are focused on creating a learning atmosphere that helps make connections in their brains and grow them as students.

 

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

Sarika Mosley, Principal: When you live in a community impacted by many hardships, such as poverty, mental health, obesity, diabetes and trauma, you must do your best to help your students moderate their emotions. These are tied directly to the physical benefits of actively engaging our students. When we tie activities to their day daily, students learn to have healthy habits that can help fight against the hardships they come with. Overall, no matter what our students walk of life, physical activity gets our students to smile, helps them maintain healthy bones and muscles, and helps them fight against any depression and anxiety that they may come across in their lifetime.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: Our students love PE, so to me a win-win combination is to get the kids up and moving and learning something at the same time. Physical activity can increase engagement and make learning more enjoyable. From my experience, kids perform better and are ready to learn even after a quick movement activity. It gives them something to look forward to and promotes an active lifestyle that will hopefully carry over into the future.

Tori Fenton, 3rd Grade Teacher: Our brain and bodies are connected and work together. Physical activity helps the brain make long term memory connections for academic advancement. Physical activity also helps keep our hearts and bodies in shape and ready to learn.

 

Henry L Slater Elementary School is one of Harney County School District's three schools.

 

We Need Fewer Parents in Oregon Prisons

 A mom and toddler, bundled up in winter hats and coats, rub their noses together.

Children should be surrounded by family, because children do better when their family is present. They do better in school, and they are healthier overall.

In the U.S., too many parents are torn away from their children by incarceration. In Oregon alone, over 14,500 parents are in prison. That means more than 20,000 Oregon children – more than 700 classrooms full of kids – are growing up without their mom or dad, and they're suffering for it.

 Infographic showing 63% of men in Oregon prisons are fathers, 81% of women in Oregon prisons are mothers. 70% of dads in Oregon prisons don't have in-person visits with their children; 20% don't have any contact with their children. 50% of moms in Oregon prisons don't have in-person visits with their children; 8% don't have any contact with their children.

Children with a parent in prison are more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs and alcohol, become teenage parents, commit crimes, and become unemployed or homeless.

To make matters worse, due to the discrimination in our criminal justice system, children of color are affected at a much higher rate. Black children are seven times more likely to have a parent in prison.

Far too many families are being torn apart by the criminal justice system. This separation can be devastating for parents and their children. I know because I lived it. In 2001, I was separated from my son and sentenced to prison for a nonviolent offense. It was heartbreaking to see the trauma and harm that my incarceration caused him. Because I was a single parent, my son bounced from one family member to another and suffered the brunt of their negative reaction. Our financial situation was tight too, so during my entire prison term, my son could only afford the bus ride to visit me once. Not being there for my son was one of the most painful experiences of my life.
— Anne, formerly incarcerated mother

Fortunately, there are ways to fix this problem. One way is the Family Sentencing Alternative (FSA), which is currently being tested as a pilot program in Deschutes, Jackson, Marion, Multnomah and Washington counties. The Family Sentencing Alternative allows parents convicted of nonviolent offenses to be assessed for intense supervision and appropriate services while remaining united with their children in the community. In Washington state, a similar program saved the state $59 a day per parent, and only eight of 120 participants committed a new felony offense.

Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ), a nonprofit that works with people convicted of crime, survivors of crime, and the families of both to advocate for policies that make Oregon’s approach to public safety more effective and more just, is one of the main proponents of the Family Sentencing Alternative. PSJ is currently supporting successful implementation and refinement of the FSA pilot projects, as well as seeking to increase community understanding and support. They'd like to see this program expand to the whole state.

PSJ hopes to shift the public conversation about incarceration from a debate regarding criminal punishment as a perceived means of increasing public safety, to a discussion about the far-reaching and long-term harms of parental imprisonment.

Partnership for Safety and Justice is one of Northwest Health Foundation's Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partners.

 

Latina Parents in Southern Oregon Stand Up for Their Children

A story from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Successful Transitions: Integrated Care for Children, Youth, and their Families.

 A Latina mother sits beside her son in a classroom while he plays with Legos.

Yolanda Peña and Raquel Garay, two Latina mothers with children in Eagle Point School District in Southern Oregon, understand the barriers parents in their community face when trying to advocate for their children’s education. Such barriers include lack of understanding of the school system’s structure, language barriers, family responsibilities and disconnection from the community. 

Peña and Garay currently serve as the president and vice president of the Migrant Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC) in their district. Migrant Education Program of Southern Oregon is part of Successful Transitions, one of ten Collaborates that in Northwest Health Foundation's Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Cohort working to build power for kids and families. 

One of Successful Transitions’ goals is to empower Latino early learners, students and their families by providing parent leadership and advocacy opportunities. Through Successful Transitions, Garay and Peña had the opportunity to attend Northwest Health Foundation’s Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities gatherings in Astoria, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington in 2016. Participating in these leadership development activities encouraged them to take on various leadership roles in their community, but especially in their children’s school district. 

Learning about the issues other Collaboratives are dealing with has helped Peña realize that every community in our region experiences different barriers, and it’s crucial for Latino students and their families to share their personal experiences and to be represented in decision-making spaces. 

Garay and Peña know from personal experience that navigating the educational system can be intimidating for many parents. Being the president and vice president for their district’s PAC has allowed them to voice the concerns of many Latino and migrant parents, and to have a direct influence in the decisions made regarding their children’s education. Garay acknowledges that it can be intimidating for many parents to speak up and advocate for their children, but she urges them to advocate for their children and their community anyway. She motivates other parents to become involved in their children’s education by helping them see the impact it has in their children’s academic and social performance.

By becoming active participants and working closely with the school districts, parents are not only advocating for their families, but for the community as a whole.

Check Out Our Partners in Willamette Week's 2016 Give!Guide

 An artist stands on a cherry picker painting a mural. The words "GIVE!GUIDE" are superimposed on top of it.

It's giving season again, folks! That means Willamette Week's Give!Guide is collecting donations now through midnight on December 31st, with a goal of raising $3,600,000 total for 141 deserving Portland nonprofits.

Several of those 141 nonprofits are Northwest Health Foundation's past and current funded partners. We've highlighted five below! These community organizations are doing amazing work for our region, and they have earned every bit of support you can offer them.

 

Black Parent Initiative

 A man holds a toddler in a school hallway. The man, the toddler and a teen standing nearby all look down at a toy the toddler is holding.

What is Black Parent Initiative? Black Parent Initiative (BPI) is the only culturally specific organization in Portland focused solely on supporting parents as a vehicle for enhancing the lives of Black youth. It helps families achieve financial, educational and spiritual success.

How is NWHF supporting BPI? NWHF is currently funding BPI through the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund to engage low-income African American families in comprehensive home-visiting services.

Why should I give to them? Children are more likely to succeed in learning, life and realizing their dreams when supported by stable and engaged adults; and communities are more likely to succeed when they prepare their children to succeed. By supporting BPI, you support a vibrant, thriving Portland.

 

Community Alliance of Tenants

 The words "#RenterStateofEmergency" and "#RenterSOS" in black text on a white ground. Above the text are icons representing a roof and megaphone.

What is Community Alliance of Tenants? Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) builds tenant power through education, advocacy, building-based organizing, leadership development and membership engagement.

How is NWHF supporting CAT? Last year NWHF supported CAT's Renter State of Emergency campaign.

Why should I give to them? Portland is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and renters are the people most impacted by it. CAT is on the front lines striving to protect renters through advocacy and legislation. In 2015, CAT's Renter State of Emergency prompted the City of Portland to declare a Housing State of Emergency. Now CAT is running a #JustCauseBecause campaign to protect tenants from no cause evictions. By giving to CAT, you contribute to all Oregonians having a stable place to live.

 

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

 Three women with beaded headbands and necklaces press their faces close together and smile.

What is Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization? Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) promotes the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society. Founded in 1976 by refugees for refugees, IRCO has nearly 40 years of history and experience working with Portland's refugee and immigrant communities.

How is NWHF supporting IRCO? IRCO is the lead organization for one of our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaboratives: Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project. 

Why should I give to them? Immigrants and refugees are a boon to our communities and our economy. Unfortunately, many of them now face the likelihood of unjust legislation by the new federal administration that will try to force many of them to leave their homes and lives in the U.S. By donating to IRCO, you support immigrants and refugees to adjust to American society, find jobs and advocate for themselves.  

 

Partnership for Safety and Justice

 A child stands next to a picket sign that reads "Justice for youth."

What is Partnership for Safety and Justice? Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) works with people convicted of crime, survivors of crime, and the families of both to advocate for policies that make Oregon’s approach to public safety more effective and more just.

How is NWHF supporting PSJ? NWHF is funding PSJ, through the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund, to implement, refine and increase community understanding and support, evidence-based justification, and state-wide expansion of the Family Sentencing Alternative. (The Family Sentencing Alternative allows parents to stay with their children while serving their sentence under community supervision.)

Why should I give to them? Incarceration has a huge negative impact on a person's future, as well as on their family's. For example, children of prisoners are more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs and alcohol, become teenage parents, commit crimes, and become unemployed and/or homeless. By donating to PSJ, you help families overcome the obstacles of life after incarceration and prevent more kids from losing their parents to prison in the future.

 

Urban League of Portland

 Kids crowd around a craft table.

What is Urban League of Portland? Urban League of Portland (ULPDX) is one of the oldest African American service, civil rights and advocacy organizations in the Portland metro area. ULPDX’s mission is to empower African Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life.

How is NWHF supporting ULPDX? NWHF last funded ULPDX to convene community members to discuss priorities related to improving children's health and education.

Why should I support them? Oregon has a deeply embedded history of discrimination against African Americans. By giving to ULPDX, you contribute to dismantling racist systems and support programs that uplift the African American community.

 

Washington County Latino Parents Organize to Break the Cycle of Childhood Poverty

adelante mujeres parents

[Image description: Latino parents gather around a conference table.]

In Washington County, 27% of children 0-6 are Latino. Yet Latino children account for more than half of children in poverty.

Here’s another shocking stat: Although 36% of youth and children in western Washington County are Latino, Hillsboro and Forest Grove school districts’ boards of directors are both 100% white.

Furthermore, out of six Forest Grove city councilors and six Hillsboro city councilors, only one is Hispanic or Latino.

This is unacceptable. This means that the Latino community, which is by far the largest ethnic/racial minority community in Oregon, is not represented at these important decision-making tables and does not have a hand in creating the policies that impact Latino kids and families.

Enter Creciendo Juntos. Led by Vision Action Network and made up of collaborative partners from education and human services sectors, Creciendo Juntos engages Latino parents to become active in their kids’ education and involved in the community, with an end goal of breaking the cycle of childhood poverty. Latino parents who are currently active in this initiative live in high-poverty neighborhoods and attend areas within the six elementary schools with the greatest percentages of Latino children in the Forest Grove and Hillsboro School Districts; three in Forest Grove: Cornelius, Echo Shaw and Fern Hill; and three in Hillsboro: Lincoln Street, Reedville and W. L. Henry. In 2012-13, each of these elementary schools had an enrollment of 66-86% Hispanic students and a free and reduced lunch eligibility of 75-85%.

According to Creciendo Juntos staff, “There is a great hunger among Latinos to work together for a better life.”

Over the last couple years, Creciendo Juntos has strengthened Latino leadership through its Advocacy Team composed of one bilingual staff member and two Latino participants from each participating partner. Their meetings are focused on educating and empowering Latinos, and are all held in Spanish. Topics covered range from citizenship and immigration rights to navigating the school system and volunteering on boards and committees.

With the newfound knowledge gained in these gatherings, parents become more comfortable participating at their kids’ schools and advocating for their kids’ education. Some of the parents involved in Creciendo Juntos are also eager to join parent advisory committees at the district level, and possibly even run for city council positions.

Moving forward, the parents who started with Creciendo Juntos will become the teachers, helping new parents become familiar with school and community systems, sharing a vision of a thriving Western Washington county where Latino children and their families are healthy, successful in school, life and engaged in their community.

Creciendo Juntos was one of Northwest Health Foundation's partners during our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Organizing Grant Year.

Oregon Active Schools: Aiken Elementary

This blog is the fourth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 Kids play on a playground carousel.

[Image description: Five kids play on a playground carousel. One girl leans back over the edge, her braid flying. One sits and dangles her legs over the side.]

HERE'S WHAT AIKEN ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. In 2014, Aiken Elementary applied for the $3,000 grant to construct a walking trail, but after calculating the cost we realized the expenses for the trail significantly outweighed the aid provided by the grant. Northwest Health Foundation allowed the school to repurpose the grant to help fund the building of a new playground. This funding allowed the Aiken PTO, Oregon Active Schools and Ontario School District to partner to add three new playground structures to the Aiken campus. The ribbon cutting event was well-attended and a healthy “create your own” snack-mix station was provided by OSU Extension staff.

In 2015, Aiken Elementary applied for an additional $3,000 grant to fund a walking program at the school. Aiken partnered with OSU Extension staff Barbara Brody and Jill Hoshaw to outline a plan to increase the amount of physical activity opportunities students receive in the school day. Included in this project will be a spring kick-off assembly, jog-a-thon, walking club, and recognition of students who are making health conscious choices when it comes to exercise and nutrition.

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. Through the additional funding and a partnership with OSU Extension, students are given far more opportunities to get out of their desks, learn healthy life skills, and move. The new playground equipment has been very popular with students and it is the busiest place on the playground. If you drive by Aiken Elementary on evenings or weekends you can see students and other community members enjoying use of these new installations.

This year, OSU staff trained teachers at Aiken to implement the use of Balanced Energy Physical Activity Toolkits. Through the use of this resource from October to December, students have increased their physical activity by 2,298 minutes, or over 38 hours. Since obtaining grant funding, Aiken has made physical education and nutrition a focus of family and community events.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity in schools is important because we are teaching children skills to be successful in life. Health plays a major part in overall success. We know from data gathered that students who receive adequate physical activity opportunities have better behavior and academic performance. We want to provide students with the best education possible, and providing them physical education plays a crucial role.

 

HERE'S WHAT AIKEN ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How has recess changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

Alina, 3rd grade: “We get to play more fun things in PE. We had a contest on how many bean bags each person could throw into a bucket. The spinny thing is my favorite part of the new playground. I sometimes come play at Aiken on the weekends.”

J.J., 3rd grade: “We get to play more activities in PE. The slide is my favorite thing on the playground. I like to play indoor soccer.”

Q. What is your favorite part about recess or PE?

Will, 1st grade: “My favorite part of PE is when we start to play with bean bags and buckets. We go in groups and then we start to play. We go run to the other buckets and try to put the bean bags in the other buckets. We try to empty our bucket and fill someone else’s bucket. My favorite game is soccer when I get to practice and play games.”

Q. Why do you think physicial activity in schools is important?

Brooke, 5th grade: “It’s important because every kid needs exercise. Playing outside makes me happy. Fresh air is good for kids. It helps my mind focus. It’s free to play at school, but for city sports you have to pay money.”

Aiken Elementary is one of Ontario School District's five elementary schools.

Oregon Active Schools: Parklane Elementary School

This blog is the third in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

[Image description: Kids in navy, white and khaki school uniforms stand in line at an orange cone. A girl in the foreground, walking away from the camera, wears bright blue and orange sneakers and green pony beads in her hair.]

HERE'S WHAT PARKLANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PE TEACHER JASON BRENNAN HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. At Parklane Elementary, our students LOVE to be active and play. We used the Oregon Active Schools funding to improve the quantity and quality of physically active experiences in our Physical Education classes, at recess, in our after school SUN program and during physical activity breaks. We upgraded and successfully organized our recess equipment by purchasing a playground storage bin, mobile hula hoop & jump rope rack, new soccer goals, and pinnies and cones for our Game of the Week activities. We are currently installing a new basketball backboard and hoop, as well as a volleyball court on our blacktop, which will be awesome. Maybe the most exciting addition is our new cross-country exercise Treadmarks program, which challenges our students to to run-walk-jog their way around a 1/4 path throughout our playground. Students keep track of their progress and earn rewards on their way to achieving the goal of 125 miles!

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. The Oregon Active School funds have allowed Parklane to provide the students of our school with a wide variety of choices and opportunities for physical activity. In our Physical Education and physical activity-related SUN classes, our instructors are able to use some of the new equipment to enable more students to engage in vigorous physical activity for a larger percentage of the class time. At recess, students can instantly participate in our Treadmarks program for the entirety of the recess or for a lap or two before quickly moving onto another physical activity on the playground. Hula hoops and jump ropes are always in use on the playground, and our soccer and Game of the Week activities are easily organized with the addition of our new pinnies and cones, allowing for large numbers of students to join and participate with high levels of physical activity.

Q. How did these funds help support your students' cultural and regional identities?

A. The students at Parklane Elementary enjoy engaging in all types of play and movement experiences and these funds have allowed our diverse student body, who together speak 20 different languages, more quality opportunities to socialize and build relationships and friendships through the exciting participation in sport and physical activity.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Schools are full of kids, and what do kids love to do........PLAY!!! It is no secret that students who regularly participate in physical activity have high levels of academic achievement, impulse control, positive behaviors and self-esteem. By providing our students at Parklane with more diverse opportunities to be physically active throughout the school day, we are providing them with safe, organized, socially engaging experiences in physical education and physical activities that can positively influence our children throughout their lifetime.

 

HERE'S WHAT PARKLANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How has recess changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

Jazleen: The treadmarks help me walk more.
Kavonte: A lot of people are doing treadmarks instead of four-square or basketball.
Lilli: We now have more choices on the playground. Some start at treadmarks and then go to a game, or the other way around.
Daniel: The treadmarks help me run faster.

Q. What is your favorite part about recess or PE?

Darius: My favorite part about recess is playing soccer and basketball with my friends.
Alex: I play with my friends at PE and have adventures.
Abdiaziz: My favorite part about PE is soccer, because it is my favorite sport.
Josh: Treadmarks!
Laila: Treadmarks. They help me be energized.
Allison: Star Wars dodgeball.
Kavonte: Kickball.
Alex: Playing volleyball.

Q. Why do you think physicial activity in schools is important?

Lyndsey: You get stronger.
Bridget: You get energy.
Nevaeh: So you can be healthy.
Lilli: So that you can release energy from your body. It's good for you.
Holly: Because it is healthy for you. IT'S FUN! And it feels good!
 

Parklane Elementary School is one of Centennial School District's seven elementary schools.

 

Oregon Active Schools: Barnes Elementary School

This blog is the second in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Read the first post here. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 Photo courtesy of Mrs. Cavaletto's We Love PE Blog.

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Cavaletto's We Love PE Blog.

[Image description: Five kids run or walk on a vibrant green field. The kid in front has his mouth wide open and one of his arms punched forward.]

This blog is reposted from Mrs. Cavaletto's Barnes PE blog.

January and February 2016

January was a fast and furious month.  We missed a day and a little due to snow and ice and then it was time to get everything ready for Marathon Kids.  Now, we have over fifty 3rd-5th grade runners meeting every Tuesday and Thursday after school to run laps.  Their goal is to add up all of their miles in the hope of reaching 104.8 by the end of the school year.  It will be tough, but hopefully it will get done.

All of that is possible because of a grant through Let's Move Active Schools, a parent who wanted to volunteer, and a few Nike employees who wanted to volunteer.  Without them we never would have been able to get off the ground.  I hope that I can continue the program each year.  This year Marathon Kids is free for the students via a grant from Let's Move Active Schools and I hope to apply again next year.  If we can get more volunteers we'll be able to support more runners.

In PE we were in our Fit Lab this month where we played "activity pictionary", practiced juggling, and learned about a million dances.  The forth and fifth grade students are now creating their own dance routines in the gym and will then get to play basketball.  The younger students are already working on various basketball skills (dribbling, passing, and shooting).  All classes have done race track fitness.  This is an activity where students work on muscular endurance and balance in the center of the "track" and cardiovascular endurance around the "track".

I have been very impressed with the choreography of the older students.  They have done really well in the short amount of time we've had.  I was out a few days being sick myself and with a sick 2 year old.  I am VERY glad to be back.

As the weather gets nicer I will start a recess running club.  I'm just waiting for the field to be dry enough to run on.  If we run the entire perimeter, it is a quarter mile.  I have different prizes based on the number of miles the students complete.  This will be for all students when I have time during their recess.  For each mile, students receive a toe token.  The five mile prize is a koosh ball, the 10 mile prize is a reaction ball, and the 15 mile prize is a giant frisbee. I'm still working on a 20 mile prize, but the final prize is a water bottle with Barnes Marathoner printed on it.  These prizes are all possible from a grant via the Northwest Health Organization and Oregon Active Schools.  Happy Valentine's Day to all and here's hoping for a dry field soon!

Barnes Elementary is one of Beaverton School District's 33 elementary schools.

 

Stronger When We Are Together: APANO's VOTE Network

A story from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative APANO Voter Organizing, Training & Empowerment (VOTE) Network.

January 2016 - on one of the first Saturday’s of the new year, a nondescript corner office building on 82nd Ave in Southeast Portland was filled with activity and livelihood. Walking or driving along 82nd Ave, one does not easily notice the brick and mortar building where the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) is based. It’s tucked away inside the Wing Ming Plaza, across from Wing Ming Herbs and above Yan Zi Lou Chinese restaurant. The space begins to fill as community leaders from Eugene, Salem, Beaverton, Corvallis and neighborhoods around Portland gather around a U-shaped table for the APANO’s VOTE Network meeting. It's not often that Asian and Pacific Islander (API) leaders and organizations come together in this fashion to discuss how our communities are going to become more civically involved, not only in this critical election year, but for a longterm movement.

 Several adults sit around a circle of tables. A tablecloth reads "APANO." Red lanterns hang from the ceiling. There are banners, flags, signs, etc. with Chinese characters along the back wall.

[Image description: Several adults sit around a circle of tables. A tablecloth reads "APANO." Red lanterns hang from the ceiling. There are banners, flags, signs, etc. with Chinese characters along the back wall.]

On this day, 16 leaders from 13 different organizations shared their thoughts and ideas. From the long established Chinese American Citizen’s Alliance (CACA) that is one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, to the Micronesian Islander Community (MIC) that was founded to serve the needs of Oregon’s Micronesians, these groups have a common vision: to promote justice and civil rights and raise the visibility of APIs in Oregon. Our state’s 250,000 individuals who identify as API share a common fate. Our communities have made rich contributions to the economy, business, labor, culture and the fabric of this state. However, our accomplishments have not been met without hardship, discrimination, exclusion and imprisonment. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to Japanese internment camps during World War 2, to present day examples where anti-immigrant sentiments and values live on, we continue to fight for justice and recognition. On that Saturday morning, we talked about our rich and powerful histories, but also real barriers to our participation due to language, cultural barriers and restrictions. Leaders discussed the importance of civic engagement and the value it brings to our communities.

 A large GROUP OF ADULTS POSE IN FRONT OF A DISPLAY OF FLAGS, RED LANTERNS, BANNERS WITH CHINESE CHARACTERS, A framed ILLUSTRATION OF A MAN WITH A LONG WHITE BEARD.

[Image description: A large group of adults pose in front of a display of flags, red lanterns, banners with Chinese characters, a framed illustration of a man with a long white beard.]

The VOTE Network, which stands for Voter Organizing, Training and Empowerment, is newly formed in 2016, with thanks to Northwest Health Foundation’s Healthy Beginnings + Healthy Communities Initiative. The Network brings leaders from diverse Asian American, immigrant and Pacific Islander communities to increase participation in civic engagement and help build the capacity of organizations. APANO’s civic engagement program recognizes that voting builds awareness about our communities concerns and their power to make positive changes. Meaningful civic engagement means making voting relevant by supporting voter registration, voter education and Get Out The Vote in ways that connect the issues to the concerns in our communities. APANO does this by creating spaces to dialogue with candidates in selected races, by analyzing and endorsing priority ballot measures we believe have the biggest impact on Asian and Pacific Islanders, and building the power of our communities to impact political decisions through voter education and turnout.

Our growing list of VOTE Network Organizations:

  • Chinese American Citizen’s Alliance

  • Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Associations

  • Philippine American Chamber of Commerce  

  • Japanese American Citizen’s Alliance

  • Bhutanese Community

  • Korean American Community of Oregon

  • Living Islands

  • Micronesian Islander Community

  • COFA Alliance National Network

  • Portland Lee’s Association

  • Zomi Association US

  • DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon

  • Asian Council of Springfield and Eugene

  • PAC Alliance

  • Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs

  • Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce

  • Oregon Minority Lawyers Association

Oregon Active Schools: Hallman Elementary School

This blog is the first in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 

 Kids running around a dirt track.

Here's what Hallman Elementary School staff had to say about Oregon Active Schools:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. We used our Oregon Active Schools grant to start and motivate students at recess to run. We purchased charms for students to earn when they complete 20 laps. They continue to build upon this each time they complete 20 laps. Students will receive more charms, water bottles, certificates and more. The top boy and girl runners will win a new pair of shoes at the end of the year.

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. More students are engaged in physical activity at recess. We no longer see kids just standing around talking. Most kids are running or walking and talking around the track. Students seem to be excited to be more active.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity provides an outlet for students. It helps to create well-rounded kids. We improve our teaching by reaching the Whole Child.

 

 Three kids lined up in front of an adult. In the background, more kids run on a dirt track.

Here's what Hallman Elementary School students had to say about Oregon Active Schools:

Q. How has school changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

A. At recess more kids run. They use to just talk.

Q. What is your favorite part about recess?

A. Running. You can earn charms.

Q. Why do you think physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity can help you learn more and feel good.

 

Hallman Elementary School is one of Salem-Keizer Public Schools' 42 elementary schools.

"We are all born (in)."

'Together, we can erase the divide between “us” and “them” and celebrate schools and communities where all individuals are embraced and included.'

 A mapping exercise from the 10th Annual All Born (In) Conference.

A mapping exercise from the 10th Annual All Born (In) Conference.

On April 23rd, 2016, Northwest Down Syndrome Association (NWDSA) and All Born (In) will host their 11th annual All Born (In) regional cross-disability conference. This conference—aimed at parents, educators, providers, self advocates and civic leaders—teaches best practices for embracing disability and reaching and teaching all people.

 Three women pose for the camera in a crowded conference room. Two appear to have Down Syndrome; one is in a wheelchair.

NWDSA and All Born (In), sister organizations, believe in full inclusion and public understanding and acceptance. They are tireless advocates for inclusive education. For example, they offer a Kindergarten Transition Workshop to help parents of young children with developmental disabilities become advocates for their kids at school. NWDSA/ABI also led Think College Inclusion Oregon—a coalition of middle and high school students, families, education professionals and Portland State University faculty—to seek funding for an inclusive college program at PSU. They succeeded in obtaining a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement the program.

"Special education is supposed to be a service, not a place," said All Born (In) Executive Director Angela Jarvis-Holland in a recent article in The Portland Tribune

 One woman speaking into a microphone, one woman signing.

The 2016 All Born (In) Conference will include more than 30 workshops on a range of topics, everything from "Behavior in the Early Years: Ideas for When the Going Gets Tough" to "Economic Freedom and Rights." There will also be two keynote speeches by Dr. Richard A. Villa and Keith Jones.

We at Northwest Health Foundation are particularly excited about Keith Jones' keynote "Soul Touching Work to Increase Access, Inclusion, and Empowerment at the Intersection of Race and Disability." Keith Jones is a disability rights activist, composer, producer and hip hop artist. He also identifies as a person with a disability. 

You can get tickets for All Born (In) Conference here.

Northwest Down Syndrome Association is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partner.

Check Out Our Partners in Willamette Week's 2015 Give!Guide

It's giving season again, folks! That means Willamette Week's Give!Guide is collecting donations now through midnight on December 31st, with a goal of raising $3,250,000 total for 143 deserving Portland nonprofits.

Several of those 143 nonprofits are Northwest Health Foundation's past and current funded partners. Check them out! We've included five below, and you can find more in our Grants Archive. These community organizations are doing amazing work for our region, and they have earned every bit of support you can offer them.

 

Adelante Mujeres provides holistic education and empowerment opportunities to low income Latina women and their families to ensure full participation and active leadership in the community. Their programs include child and adult education, youth leadership, business development, a farmers market and more! Most recently, NWHF awarded Adelante Mujeres a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund (KPCF) grant for ESPERE, a program aimed at addressing the issue of individual, familial and societal violence among Latino immigrant families.

 

Hacienda CDC is a Latino Community Development Corporation that strengthens families by providing affordable housing, homeownership support, economic advancement and educational opportunities. This year, Hacienda CDC opened the Portland Mercado, Portland's first Latino public market. A KPCF grant helped fund the establishment of this economic and cultural hub in SE Portland.  

 

Latino Network provides transformative opportunities, services and advocacy for the education, leadership and civic engagement of our youth, families and communities. NWHF supports Latino Network through a KPCF grant to Juntos Aprendemos, a program that prepares 3-5 year olds for success in kindergarten and equips parents with the skills and confidence to be their child’s first teachers.

 

REACH provides quality, affordable housing for individuals, families and communities to thrive. Recently, REACH completed an affordable housing project called Orchards at Orenco, which won recognition for being the largest multi-family Passive House building in the United States. KPCF funded REACH to investigate strategies and best practices to develop and implement a paid job training program for REACH residents. 

 

Village Gardens brings a spirit of hope to the people by growing and sharing healthy food, learning and teaching skills, and empowering community leadership. Village Gardens includes individual and family garden plots, employment opportunities for adults and teens, after-school and summer activities for children, homework clubs, an emerging livestock project, a Community Health Worker program, and a youth-run entrepreneurial business. KPCF is funding Village Gardens to launch a community driven network of food based micro enterprises.

 

Children's Institute Combats Chronic Absence

 Adult and child high-fiving in a school hallway.

Chronic absence is a huge problem in Oregon. Last year, one out of every six students was chronically absent. That means almost 94,000 students missed at least one out of every ten school days. Data shows, these kids are more likely to perform poorly academically, as well as drop out before high school graduation.

This isn't okay, and the Children's Institute is determined that Oregon do better for its children. First step, spread awareness of the issue.

Because many schools don't even track chronic absence among their students, educators and families often don't realize how big an issue it is. That's why the Children's Institute worked with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to collect and release data about chronic absence in Oregon during the 2014-15 school year. As hoped, ODE's data has put the problem of chronic absence on the radar for school districts and communities across the state.

One of the key findings of their research was this: attendance habits in kindergarten can predict attendance habits and academic performance in high school. That brings us to step two of the Children's Institute's plan to combat chronic absence.

 Young child with both hands raised.

The Children's Institute has partnered with two schools (Early Boyles Elementary and Yoncalla Elementary) to establish and run two Early Works preschool programs. By making attendance a priority early on, Early Works helps families and students establish good habits that will carry through kindergarten and beyond. As an example of the impact they're making, in 2014-15, students in the Earl Boyles preschool program averaged a 94 percent attendance rate.

Thanks to ODE, the Children's Institute and the Oregon schools that have already experimented with intervention programs, we have plenty of data and good examples to learn from. We know which groups of students have the highest rates of chronic absence (Native Americans, special education students, low-income students and Pacific Islanders), so we can focus our efforts accordingly. And we know that the best way to combat chronic absence is with early family engagement in preschool and kindergarten.

Learn more in the Children's Institute's Showing Up, Staying In report.

The Children's Institute is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund partner. They have also received funding through Northwest Health Foundation Sponsorships and the President's Opportunity Fund.

"It's not what's wrong with people, but rather what happens to them."

 Healthy Living Collaborative's first group of graduating Community Health Workers. Matti is the one in the red sweater.

Healthy Living Collaborative's first group of graduating Community Health Workers. Matti is the one in the red sweater.

Community Health Workers (CHWs) of the Healthy Living Collaborative of Southwest Washington (HLC) come from the communities they work in. A combination of health training and community understanding make HLC's CHWs ideal connectors for community members and health systems. They have the knowledge and resources people need, as well as the trust of the people they are working with.

Matti Neal is one of those Community Health Workers. She graduated from HLC's first round of CHW training, and she was one of only 25 CHWs in Washington state selected to participate in Healthy Generations' NEAR Expert Presenter and Coach Education cohort.

NEAR is the study of the intersection between neuroscience, epigenetics, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience, or, as Matti explained, "It's not what's wrong with people, but rather what happens to them." 

Here's what Matti learned at the training:

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences are a major determinant of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, mental challenges, drug abuse, chronic disease and success in education.
  • The first step toward healing comes with awareness, education and understanding of the problem, which often requires a change in thinking.
  • The dynamics that lead to high ACEs scores can improve with the support of community resources, trusted relationships, thriving communities, respect, faith and culture.
  • And community organizing and policy advocacy can lead to improved health for an entire community.

Matti's greatest takeaway? Everyone can make a difference in someone's life, or even in the health of a whole neighborhood. Anyone can make a positive impact on community health and help to change policies. In addition, Matti's understanding of ACEs has led her to become more compassionate. She makes an effort to learn a person's story before jumping to conclusions. 

The NEAR training has inspired Matti to pursue further education in the area of mental illness, addiction and recovery counseling. It has also led HLC's CHWs to plan community education and events incorporating many of the learnings that Matti brought back to the community.

Latino Network Prepares Spanish-speaking Kids and Parents for Kindergarten

 Group of kids sitting on the floor in front of a teacher.

After multi-racial students, Latino and Hispanic students are Oregon public schools' fastest growing demographic. In 2014, 22.4% of students enrolling in Oregon schools identified as Hispanic/Latino, compared to 17.25% in 2008. With many of these students coming from Spanish-speaking households, additional support is integral to the academic success of these students.

While Oregon has taken big steps toward helping these kids with recent English Language Learner (ELL) legislation and efforts to increase the number of bilingual educators in schools, some nonprofits are stepping in before kids even start school. One of these is Latino Network.

 Young kids standing in a line, waving their arms around.

Spanish-speaking children, ages three to five, in Latino Network's Juntos Aprendemos (Together We Learn) program learn early numeracy and literacy skills, how to behave in a classroom setting, how to interact with peers, and Latino culture and heritage. Spanish-speaking guardians learn how to teach numeracy and literacy, positive communication skills, how to navigate the U.S. educational system, and how to be an advocate for their child in and out of school.

Juntos Aprendemos graduates are better at learning reading and engage more positively with their peers when they start school. In addition, the guardians of these students are more involved in their children's schooling, where before they might be unsure how to show up for their children in a majority English-speaking school system.

 Father sitting in a classroom with two children, playing with a puzzle.

This year Latino Network is celebrating Juntos Aprendemos' 15th year! "Juntos Aprendemos was created in 2000 by a group of Latino parents and community members who wanted to ensure Latino children were entering kindergarten prepared to succeed." Even more exciting, Juntos Aprendemos is expanding into a fourth school district this fall and is now operating in seven schools. 

Juntos Aprendemos is funded in part by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at Northwest Health Foundation.