Oregon Active Schools Engages Students & Families in Physical Activity in New Ways

Over the last five years, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Nike and Northwest Health Foundation gave over $1 million total to 139 Oregon elementary schools to support physical education programs and inspire a lifelong love of physical activity. Now Oregon Active Schools is winding down, and we’re sharing highlights and learnings.

Read on to find out how two elementary schools used Oregon Active Schools grants to engage students and families in physical activity in new ways.

 

Whitcomb Elementary fifth graders goof around in the school gym. They earned a dodgeball game by working together as a class to improve their attendance! Photo courtesy of Lot Whitcomb Elementary Facebook page.

Whitcomb Elementary fifth graders goof around in the school gym. They earned a dodgeball game by working together as a class to improve their attendance! Photo courtesy of Lot Whitcomb Elementary Facebook page.

Whitcomb Elementary

Staff at Whitcomb Elementary School in North Clackamas School District recognized an opportunity to not only get kids moving, but also help students self-regulate and problem-solve through physical activity.

"We continue to work with our partners and community to make our recess area more engaging and add places that students can use to regulate themselves through physical activity. This was done through our sensory walk stations.

We used the money granted to us to repaint basketball lines, our problem-solving wheel, and add two sensory walks. This was also done in cooperation with our community and Playworks coach while cleaning up our playground. Students are now able to take sensory walks when they need, and the highlighting of the problem-solving wheels has increased its use which has decreased the number of problems at recess."

  

Whitcomb Elementary’s problem-solving wheel painted on the playground blacktop. It includes options like “Wait and Cool Off” and “Make a Deal” illustrated with frogs.

Whitcomb Elementary’s problem-solving wheel painted on the playground blacktop. It includes options like “Wait and Cool Off” and “Make a Deal” illustrated with frogs.

Aiken Elementary 

Aiken Elementary in Ontario School District used their Oregon Active Schools funds to organize, promote and expand a walking club. At first, they used it just to get students walking. Then they started using it to engage families in physical activity, too.

Aiken encouraged students to walk more by tracking how far they’d walked and challenging them to beat their own record. They also held class competitions. Originally, staff tallied each lap a student walked by hand. Now they use iPads and student ID cards. The total number of miles walked has increased every year since the walking club started.

Aiken also offered opportunities at family events for students to walk with their families during the event, providing special incentives exclusive to the students who participated in these events. In this way, they’ve increased awareness of healthy living throughout the whole community.

“We were able to use walking as a draw to get parents/families involved in other activities, and we were able to get parents/families walking when they were drawn by another activity.

Our current population is over 50% Hispanic. As a general rule, it was not the Hispanic population you would see out walking. Students, through their walking activity, have influenced parents to get out and move for health and entertainment.”



Look out for our final Oregon Active Schools blog next month, which will include the results of our OAS evaluation.

Oregon Active Schools Increases Childrens' Access to Physical Activity

An Independence Elementary School student stands on a balance board.

An Independence Elementary School student stands on a balance board.

Over the last five years, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Nike and Northwest Health Foundation gave over $1 million total to 139 Oregon elementary schools to support physical education programs and inspire a lifelong love of physical activity. Now Oregon Active Schools is winding down, and we’re sharing highlights and learnings.

Read on to find out how three elementary schools used Oregon Active Schools grants to increase children and families’ access to play and exercise.

Parkdale Elementary

Before moving to Oregon a few years ago, PE teacher Brack Hassel had never received any money to support his students’ physical education. Then, his first year at Parkdale, he received a $3000 grant from Oregon Active Schools. The grant changed his whole curriculum and increased students’ interest in and access to physical activity.

Parkdale used Oregon Active Schools funding to purchase new PE equipment, revamp their recess space with new play structures, and partner with Playworks

Six Parkdale Elementary students play indoor soccer. According to PE teacher Brack Hassel, soccer is one of Parkdale’s most popular activities.

Six Parkdale Elementary students play indoor soccer. According to PE teacher Brack Hassel, soccer is one of Parkdale’s most popular activities.

Brack’s goal this year was to engage every student in play at recess. The past couple years, teachers and students have lost instruction time due to behavior problems stemming off recess. Kids often floated around the play area with nothing to do and returned to class restless. Over the last year, Playworks instituted junior coaches (upper-elementary students who help everyone feel welcome at recess) and more options for games. Parkdale teachers report a huge decrease in lost instruction time, and recess monitors report more kids happy and moving.

Three Washington Elementary School students scale a climbing wall with pool noodles sticking out of it. Several students wait in line for their turn.

Three Washington Elementary School students scale a climbing wall with pool noodles sticking out of it. Several students wait in line for their turn.

Washington Elementary

Washington Elementary used their Oregon Active Schools grants to purchase new equipment, with a focus on safer equipment for kindergarten and first grade students. They also used the funding to support their track club.

Washington Elementary introduced a running and walking station at recess, offering incentives based on distance. More and more students began to participate, until Washington Elementary decided to expand track club to morning and afternoon times as well, increasing access for students and their families. Now PE teacher Wil Poton notices more parents getting involved too, with parents volunteering to run and walk with the students and motivate them. 

Independence Elementary

Independence Elementary students run through clouds of colored powder, tossed by adults standing on the sidelines.

Independence Elementary students run through clouds of colored powder, tossed by adults standing on the sidelines.

Independence Elementary used Oregon Active Schools funds to start and improve their running and walking program with incentives, tracking cards and toe tokens. In addition, PE teacher Meg Greiner purchased lights for dance parties and circus arts equipment, including stilts, pogo sticks, flower sticks, diabolos and juggling balls and scarves.

Students at Independence love running club, circus arts and dance parties, all of which are included before school, during recess and lunch, and after school. With new equipment and a greater variety of activities, more students can access physical activity than ever before.

Independence also used Oregon Active Schools funds to bring We Care Sports to lead an assembly and family fun night. About 80 students and family participated.

FACT Oregon: Empowering Families Experiencing Disability to Pursue Whole Lives

A story from Health & Education Fund Impact Partner FACT Oregon.

Three photos: One depicts a woman and child swimming together in a pool. One depicts an adult running, a child biking, and a youth using a recumbent bike, all wearing matching green t-shirts. And one depicts two youth running on either side of a third youth in a power chair, all three with race numbers pinned to their shirts.
When we received Lizzie’s diagnosis of Down syndrome just after her birth, I had no context for what it meant for her or us. I feared she might not walk, talk, or count to three. I did not know if she would make friends, play sports, or do homework. As her parent, my preconceived thinking about disability — my ignorance — could be the biggest limiting factor to her living a full, whole life. What do you DO with that?
— Elliott Dale

From diagnosis, disability is often presented as a deficit and a reason to segregate. This leads to lives of limited growth, social isolation, loneliness, poor health outcomes, and underemployment for too many Oregonians. FACT Oregon empowers families experiencing disability to pursue whole lives and change the trajectory for their kids to one of unlimited potential.

Parents are hungry for support, resources, and ways to engage in community. FACT Oregon provides trainings, peer-to-peer support, and community building programs for families of youth experiencing disability to help change life trajectories. We support families across all 36 Oregon counties and are parent-led. Our board maintains a majority membership of parents, and all leadership and program staff are parents of youth or young adults experiencing disability. Our person-centered, collaborative support services and trainings cover special education, assistive technology, behavior as communication, inclusive recreation, disability awareness, becoming a welcoming community, family networking, navigating disability service systems, person-centered planning, transition to adulthood, and more.

We are experiencing record-breaking call volume, with a 32% growth in calls from families seeking support over the last year. One question we often ask families when they call or attend a training is: "What is your vision for your child's future?" That one question reminds families that they have the power to change trajectory, to hold high expectations, and to give their kids the opportunities they need to live whole lives of self-determination and inclusion.

One of our newest programs, the All Ability Tri4Youth, helps improve the health and well-being of young people experiencing disability by encouraging physical activity in community. A major factor in the high obesity rate for people with disabilities is limited access to sports and recreation. FACT Oregon's All Ability Tri4Youth, the only barrier-free triathlon on the West Coast, actively demonstrates how to design programming that welcomes people with disabilities more fully into sports and recreation. Participants get a chance to explore swimming, biking, and running, and families connect with local sports and recreation resources that their youth with disabilities can access.

Elliott’s story didn’t end in fear and ignorance. He got involved in FACT Oregon, currently chairs our board, and is on a journey, living a whole life:

Our family was fortunate to connect early with people who helped us challenge our norms. People who held high expectations, showed us that disability is natural, and modeled how to navigate the next step for Lizzie and the step after that. These are the people and families of FACT Oregon. Today, Lizzie counts, she runs, she has play dates, she has ballet practice and plays soccer, she does homework. And she is in first grade in a typical class in our neighborhood school— the first child with Down syndrome to attend for as long as anyone can remember. The people at FACT Oregon helped us make that happen.

Find out more about FACT Oregon at www.factoregon.org, and register today for our All Ability Tri4Youth, which will take place August 10, 2019 at Tualatin Hills Athletic Center in Beaverton.

Set the Stage without Defining the Script: OPAL Environmental Justice

The Kaiser Permanente Community Fund (KPCF) at Northwest Health Foundation was founded in 2004 with an initial $28 million investment by Kaiser Permanente to improve conditions for health. As we learned how to best partner with community organizations, we made pivotal decisions that changed how we operated. In this story, we tell how OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon taught us the benefits of setting the stage without defining the script.

Youth Environmental Justice Alliance onstage at the 2017 Climate March.

Youth Environmental Justice Alliance onstage at the 2017 Climate March.

If Tommy Jay Larracas is able to catch one of the few buses that leave after-school activities, he settles in for a long crowded ride. It can take more than two and a half hours to get home, which leaves little time for chores and homework. The same is true for his morning commute; if he can’t catch the early school bus, he has to scramble to find money to pay for a ride on the public bus. When he doesn’t have the extra money or time, Tommy can’t find a way to get to school.

When Kaiser Permanente Community Fund first decided to focus on improving educational outcomes for Oregon youth, we weren’t thinking about how students get to and from school. Among other funders, we heard lots of discussion about creating new after-school programs, but we rarely heard discussions about what young people need to actually get to those programs.

Thankfully, one of the values that defined how we operated was community-driven solutions. Instead of defining the solution we wanted to fund, we instead articulated a vision and invited community-based organizations to identify possible solutions. “Northwest Health Foundation believes that communities understand the problems they face best, because they live them everyday,” said Community Engagement Officer Michael Reyes “So of course they would also know the best solutions to those problems.”

When we said we wanted to see greater racial equity in education, one community group, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, directed our attention to public transit and the ability of students to get to and from school and after-school programs. OPAL’s Executive Director Huy Ong told us, “Expanding transit access to underserved schools is a systemic change to win more equitable educational access for low-income youth and youth of color. Access to transportation is a critical factor in improving school attendance rates. OPAL’s organizing activates the potential of our youth to re-imagine how they get to school, and to lead the charge to make their vision a reality.”

Once we learned that public transit was a major barrier for students of color to participate in school and after-school programs, we decided to fund OPAL, even if it took us outside of our comfort zone of funding traditional educational programs. “We trust OPAL, because OPAL’s work is led by the communities OPAL serves. This campaign, for example, was led by youth of color from high schools throughout Multnomah County,” said Michael Reyes Andrillon.

OPAL was successful, not only in Oregon, but across the nation. Their community-led Campaign for a Fair Transfer led to a change in federal policy that requires transit agencies to conduct an equity analysis before changing transfer times. OPAL’s YouthPass to the Future campaign also convinced local policymakers to expand the YouthPass program to give public transit passes to students to two additional Portland-area school districts. Youth in the program, like Tommy, now have a consistent, reliable way to get to and from school and other opportunities across the city, although recent budget cuts mean that OPAL must once again campaign for the program. Again, youth are taking the lead.

OPAL, like many other organizations in constantly-changing environments, must continuously search for new sources of funding to pursue their vision. “Scarcity of resources keeps us from being able to build strong partnerships,” said OPAL Community Engagement Coordinator Shawn Fleek, because it means “we just have more projects and less general operating grants. Projects say ‘reach these numbers, get these outcomes, put your report at the end of the year.’ But when work is led by community, we might not know in advance exactly what we’re going to achieve, but we know we’re going to achieve it by the right process.” Instead, Shawn says, more funders need to say, “We trust your values and your methods. Take this money and use it to do whatever the community says it needs to do.” In short, Shawn says, “Let us do our work.”

From our experience with OPAL, KPCF learned about what is possible when we invite community-driven solutions. Instead of defining specific outcomes we want to fund, we articulate a vision and invite community-led organizations to define a path to get there. By doing so, we learn from the communities most impacted by barriers to health and begin to see new solutions for established problems.

The Roots of Health: Resolutions Northwest

The Kaiser Permanente Community Fund (KPCF) at Northwest Health Foundation was founded in 2004 with an initial $28 million investment by Kaiser Permanente to improve conditions for health. As we learned how to best partner with community organizations, we made pivotal decisions that changed how we operated. In this story, we tell how Resolutions Northwest taught us to focus on the roots of health, even when it pushes us out of our comfort zone.

Restorative Justice Co-Director Natalia Mathews leading circle with students at Rigler.

Restorative Justice Co-Director Natalia Mathews leading circle with students at Rigler.

Rigler Elementary School felt a lot different before Resolutions Northwest brought restorative justice to the school. Ten years ago, if a student ignored instructions or disrespected a teacher, they would have received a referral. In some cases they may have been sent to the office and spent a portion of their day there, missing critical instruction time. As referrals built up over the course of the year, the student may have faced suspension or even expulsion.

Now, as one teacher recounts, restorative justice helps educators address factors underlying behavior and keep students in school. One teacher told Resolutions NW, “I participated in a restorative dialogue with a student who had ignored instructions and used disrespectful language with me. During the session, he said he thought of himself as a bad kid and assumed that I saw him as a bad kid. The session allowed us to start to address this self-image and was the turning point in our relationship, which has been extremely positive ever since.”

Restorative justice holds students accountable without the strict punishment that is often disproportionately applied to students of color and students with disabilities. It is a philosophy and practice to address harm between individuals and communities and undo systemic patterns of institutional racism and oppression. “Our goal is to build, maintain, and repair relationships in order to foster healthy and inclusive school communities,” said Christina Albo, director of restorative justice for Resolutions Northwest.

Restorative justice uses dialogue and social-emotional learning to teach young people to navigate their emotions and take responsibility for their actions. The skills it teaches create healthy habits that last a lifetime. In schools where restorative justice programs have been implemented, there has been a decrease in the difference of academic and disciplinary outcomes between students of color and their peers. During three academic years (2011-2014) of the Restorative Justice Program at Rigler Elementary School, African American and Latino students’ rate of major disciplinary referrals declined compared to their White peers. Relative rates began to rise in 2014-2015 when the program didn’t operate that year.

As KPCF matured, we decided to focus on education as a key area for investment that can create health in our communities. With stated values around social and racial equity, we were introduced to the work of Resolutions NW. “Education is a key factor to determining life-long health. We can’t measure impacts to health immediately, but we can find other indicators to measure our progress toward healthier communities. Resolutions Northwest helped us see how we can realize our vision by improving graduation and school discipline, and decreasing bias against students of color and students with disabilities,” said Michael Reyes Andrillon, Community Engagement Officer with Northwest Health Foundation.

With our support, Resolutions NW was able to expand their pilot into five additional schools and develop a partnership with Portland Public Schools. They now work closely with the district to reduce disproportionate discipline for youth of color and have even negotiated a multi-year contract with the district to build restorative justice into the district at all levels.

“Looking back, we now see that creating partnerships between schools and community organizations is key to creating health. Schools are asking for help, and the solutions they need can be created only in partnership with the students and families in their communities,” said Michael Reyes Andrillon. As a result of how we matured as a fund, and the decisions we made to address the roots of health in education, Resolutions Northwest has been able to nurture school efforts that give students a greater chance to live vibrant, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

 
Infographic - Resolutions Northwest.jpg

CAPACES Leadership Institute is preparing Latinx Oregonians to run for office

A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Healthy CAPACES.

Graduates from People’s Representatives’ elected office cohort stand and smile in front of a large painting depicting farmworkers.

Graduates from People’s Representatives’ elected office cohort stand and smile in front of a large painting depicting farmworkers.

Representation matters. When elected officials and other community leaders reflect the communities they serve, those communities do better. Having had similar experiences to their constituents, these leaders understand the issues firsthand, know the barriers they need to tear down, and can create change that improves people’s lives.

In reality, leaders rarely reflect the communities they serve. Although only 31% of the U.S. population is made up of white men, white men make up 65% of the United States’ elected officials. Similarly, 38% of Oregonians are white men, but white men make up 67% of Oregon’s elected officials. That means women and people of color, among other populations, are underrepresented.

Four out of five students in Oregon’s Woodburn School District are Latinx, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the Woodburn school board had a majority of Latinx school board members (although still not four out of five). As Latinx representation on Woodburn’s school board has grown, Latinx student dropout rates have gone down, teen pregnancy rates have gone down, gang activity has decreased, and graduation rates have gone up. One of Woodburn’s high schools is now among the top five in the nation. 

Woodburn’s success in electing Latinx candidates is largely due to the efforts of a group of nonprofit organizations known as Alianza Poder/Power Alliance (Formerly the CAPACES Network). The Alliance includes an electoral organizing entity, a housing development corporation, a nonprofit focused on educational accountability and equity, a statewide immigrant rights coalition, a youth leadership program and more. By leveraging all their skills, resources and, most importantly, people power, Alianza Poder does an amazing job of engaging and activating their communities, getting out the vote, and preparing community members for leadership opportunities. Acción Política PCUNista, the Alliance’s 501(c)4, succeeded in electing Oregon’s first Latina immigrant to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2016. They also supported Latinx candidates to run for school board and other local positions.

While Alianza Poder has led incredible progress, Oregon’s elected officials are still far from reflecting Oregon’s Latinx population (Oregon’s largest ethnic minority). So, this year CAPACES Leadership Institute launched People’s Representatives – a bilingual leadership development institute based in Marion and Polk Counties, designed to prepare social-justice-minded Latinxs to compete for appointed or elected office or volunteer on committees.

People’s Representatives has two tracks: one for people curious about running for elected office, and one for people who want to serve on committees. Over the course of five trainings, all participants self-assess their values, financial resources, social network, etc.; conduct research about their region and elected office/committee of choice; and learn about messaging. Elected-track participants also learn about fundraising for and planning a campaign, while committee-track participants learn about building relationships and making change through committees.

Graduates from People’s Representatives’ committee cohort stand, sit and kneel in front of a wall hung with paintings and photos. They’re all smiling.

Graduates from People’s Representatives’ committee cohort stand, sit and kneel in front of a wall hung with paintings and photos. They’re all smiling.

The committee pathway graduated its first cohort of 16 people, mostly Latinx parents, on April 28, 2018. The first elected pathway cohort graduated on September 15, made up mostly of young adults. Already, some of the committee pathway graduates have been selected to serve on a school district hiring committee and a Salem area transportation committee.

People’s Representatives will continue to check in with all its graduates, even after they’ve taken on public service leadership roles.

We can’t wait to hear more stories from People’s Representative graduates and the cohorts to come!

Building Latinx Youth Leadership on Oregon's North Coast

A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative La Voz de la Comunidad.

A group of nine Latinx youth pose in front of a wooden bridge surrounded by trees and other greenery.

BYP100. Dreamers. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Youth are leaders. And, they will continue to lead as they grow older. We need to prepare them for future leadership roles, from committees and boards to elected office and everything in between.

Oregon and Southwest Washington become more and more racially and ethnically diverse every day. Unfortunately, there are few culturally-specific youth leadership programs, particularly beyond the I-5 corridor. Youth of color don’t see themselves represented at most leadership programs, and, often, they opt out.

A decade ago, Cispus Learning Center staff member Vincent Perez noticed few Latinxs participated in youth leadership programs in Washington. So, he convinced the Association of Washington School Principals to develop a leadership camp specifically for Latinx youth. That camp was La Cima, a bilingual leadership camp for Latinx youth with the goal of building their skills and improving school climates. Last year, noticing a similar need in their region, Lower Columbia Hispanic Council started La Cima Lower Columbia on Oregon’s North Coast.

La Cima Lower Columbia welcomes Latinx high school students from Astoria High School, Seaside High School, Warrenton High School, Tillamook High School and Taft High School in Lincoln City. In 2017, 19 students spent three days together at Camp Kiwanilong. This April, 36 students spent four days together. Both years, participants wished the camp went on longer.

Participants and staff in the second La Cima Lower Columbia camp in 2018 pose together in rows. There are 48 people total.

At La Cima, everything is in English AND Spanish, and no one has to be proficient in both – campers or staff. Campers engage in hands-on activities, reflecting on experiences and issues, making goals for themselves, creating fun group presentations and solving problems together.    

“[La Cima] is a great camp,” said 2018 participant Alma Bolaños Hinojosa. “Not only will you make friends, but you feel the atmosphere of a family. When you least expect it, at the end of the day, you are already known as a leader.”

Six Latinx youth stand in a row, foot to foot, their legs spread wide. They're inside a wooden shelter with picnic tables.

This year, youth spent the last day of camp learning how to start clubs at their schools. That way, they’ll still have a little bit of La Cima with them throughout the year. So far, Astoria High School and Warrenton High School have both received funding for this purpose.

Lower Columbia Hispanic Council Executive Director Jorge Gutierrez wrote, “I have found this program to be unique, innovative and among the most rewarding and satisfying work I have been a part of as an executive director at LCHC.”

As the lead organization for La Voz de la Comunidad, one of Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities’ ten Community Collaboratives, LCHC is involved in a project to learn about leadership development programs across Oregon and Southwest Washington and create a resource bank of leadership development curriculum. La Cima Leadership Camp is an asset to our region, and will certainly help inform that resource bank.

Somali Families Need Somali Teachers

A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project.

Every family and community wants their children to succeed in school. Oregon’s Somali community is no different.

Three members of the Somali community sit on one side of a white tablecloth-covered table.

However, the Somali community faces some additional barriers to education in the United States. For one, there’s the language barrier. Even if a Somali student speaks English fluently, members of their family, including their parents, might not. That means it is challenging for parents to engage in their children’s school. (It’s been shown that parent involvement advances learning.) In addition, as Somali children lose their native language, it becomes harder and harder for them to communicate with older generations of their family and community.

There is also a cultural barrier to education for Somali families: most Somali Americans lived in refugee camps for years before they moved to the U.S., and the refugee camps did not have formal schools. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Somali children, youth and their families might have trouble understanding and navigating Oregon’s school system. As a result, many Somali students drop out.

Concerned Somali parents and community members met with Portland Public School District officials, hoping to solve these problems. At first, PPS offered money to the Somali community for afterschool problems. “Money is great,” said parent and community member Isgow Mohamed, “but that’s not the issue.” What they really needed was someone in the schools who spoke their language and understood their culture: a Somali teacher or administrator.

Thanks to the Somali community’s advocacy, PPS hired a Somali teacher to teach at Rosa Parks Elementary School, and occasionally visit other schools as well. And, they’re determined to place more Somali teachers in more schools across the district. That way, Somali children and youth will feel supported in the classroom. Parents will have someone they trust who they can bring questions to. Teachers will encourage students to speak Somali, as well as English. If all goes well, Somali students will thrive.

It is doubly difficult for immigrants and refugees from non-English speaking countries to advocate for themselves. They may not be comfortable speaking up for themselves in English. In addition, they may come from countries where civic and political engagement is discouraged, sometimes violently. The Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project, led by their Multiethnic Advisory Group, engages and supports immigrant and refugee community members to participate in storytelling and advocacy for systems change. Northwest Somali Community Organization is one of their core partners.

Western States Center & CAPACES Network: Winning with Reproductive Justice

A woman sits on the floor holding her child. He looks over her shoulder, smiling. She is laughing. 

According to Western States Center’s Gender Justice Program Director Amy Casso, when you lead with Reproductive Justice you can win. Why? Because Reproductive Justice is intersectional and inclusive; everyone can see themselves in it. It also has the ability to shift narrative and culture in communities.

The CAPACES Network organizations, a group of primarily Latino-led and serving organizations in Oregon, saw an opportunity in Reproductive Justice. After participating in Western States Center’s We are BRAVE Cohort, CAPACES Network staff wanted to bring a Gender Justice and Reproductive Justice lens to all their work. They partnered with Western States Center to guide them through the process.

Over the last year, CAPACES Network executive directors and staff participated in monthly trainings and discussions around building and integrating a Gender and Reproductive Justice lens into their organizations’ program work. A pivotal moment came in August when many of them participated in Activists Mobilizing for Power 2017 workshops like “Talking About Abortion in the Latinx Community” and “Over-policed and Undervalued: reproductive justice, prison-abolition and birthing” to deepen their understanding.

A person stands in front of a row of gray boxes, visible from the waist down. Each box has a  statistic painted on it. The closest one reads, "In 2011, 1 in 13 white Oregonians were uninsured and 1 in 6 people of color were uninsured."

CAPACES Network members also participated in the campaign to pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act, advocating for all Oregonians, regardless of income, citizenship status, gender identity or type of insurance, to have access to the full range of preventative reproductive health services.

Over the next year, Western States Center and CAPACES Network will conduct a community assessment in order to better understand the community’s concerns and needs, as well as identify opportunities for policy shifts. They’re working closely with several organizations, including both of the Network’s youth organizations, Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) and Talento Universitario Regresando a Nuestros Orígenes (TURNO).

It’s clear the partnership is already impacting community members. Western States Center recently hosted an event with Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas, unrelated to their partnership with CAPACES Network. At the event, Amy Casso asked community members if they’d heard about the Reproductive Health Equity Act and what it could do for them. All of them had.

Ultimately, CAPACES Network hopes this partnership will result in a healthier community and healthier families.

Oregon Active Schools: Hillside Elementary School

This blog is the eighth 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.

Two students hug each other and smile on a field full of students playing.

HERE'S WHAT HILLSIDE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Q. What makes your school special?

Friends and teachers.

We can earn student of the month.

We have lots of friends.

We get to learn.

 

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

I like to do cartwheels with my friends.

You can play on the playground.

We get exercise, and we get to learn.

You get to enjoy the sun.

 

Q. Why are exercise and play important?

To get you fit.

You get strong.

You can play with your friends.

 
A large group of Hillside Elementary School students pose in front of a playground.

HERE'S WHAT HILLSIDE ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Q. What makes your school and students special?

Hillside Elementary School is a modern school in a beautiful mountainside setting. Something special about our school is we have electives three days a week. Students get to choose which elective they would like to participate in. Electives change every four to six weeks, allowing students exposure to multiple active activities. Some of the current elective options are nature hikes, 80s aerobics, rock climbing, obstacle course, dance party, relay races and soccer. Students look forward to their electives and value the choice.

 

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

Finding opportunities for more Hillside students and families to become active was an important goal for our school. This year, Hillside participated in the Mayor’s Cup Fun Run. We promoted the event through emails, presentations and social media. The grant allowed us to assist families who were unable to pay the entry fee. We look forward to this becoming an annual tradition.

Our student leadership team served as the planning committee for our second goal: creating a walk or bike to school day. They connected with community businesses, mapped out walking routes and worked with our local police officers to create a day where students and families could walk or bike to school. They also created advertisements and fliers. The walk or bike was followed by an outdoor party with music, granola bars, bracelets and water. We believe that by providing a special day for students to walk or bike to school, we will encourage families to walk or bike more often, instead of driving.

 

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

Both of our events were successful and will now be part of our annual Hillside events. The student leadership team felt empowered by the opportunity to facilitate such a large event.

 

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

Research is clear about the correlation of physical activity with better academic results. At Hillside, we strive to include physical activity throughout the day. Often it will be a quick moving activity, such as a Go Noodle movement video or crossing the center line stretching activity. With our recess time and electives we keep our students moving.

 

Hillside Elementary School is in Jackson County School District.

Oregon Active Schools: Parkdale Elementary School

This blog is the seventh 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.

Parkdale students stand scattered around a field. One student holds a yellow ball.

HERE'S WHAT PARKDALE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

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

I like to play and have fun with my friends when I’m in PE and at recess.

The best thing about PE is when we learned how to jump rope.

I like to play tag in PE and at recess.

My favorite part of recess is getting to run.

My favorite part of PE is when we get to play tag games.

 
Parkdale students jump rope in a gym. A rainbow and dragon are painted on the wall above the basketball hoops.

Q. Why are exercise and play important?

Play is important, because it is fun!

Exercise helps you grow up to be healthy and strong.

Exercise helps you grow big strong muscles, and it is fun.

I think exercise is important, because it makes you sweat.

 

HERE'S WHAT PARKDALE ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Parkdale students play indoor soccer.

Q. What makes your school and students special?

Our school is special because we are located in a small rural community. Our students and families know each other very well, and it is like a large family.

A little more than fifty percent of our students are English Language Learners. Students come in at all different language levels, but our school is awesome about meeting the needs of each of our students.

Parkdale is special because of the people who work here and the kids we serve. Having worked in multiple schools before this one, I have found that Parkdale is incredibly unique thanks to the autonomy of the teachers in regards to their belief that all students truly can learn, as well as the hard work I see teachers putting in on a daily basis in order to promote this learning.

 

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

Parkdale used the Oregon Active Schools (OAS) grant in several ways. Our first priority was buying much needed basic physical education equipment in order to provide a varied and standards-based PE class to all students at Parkdale. We bought jump ropes, several types of balls/beanbags and other basic supplies. These purchases allowed us to eliminate wait time for our students in PE by putting the appropriate equipment into each student’s hands. 

The OAS grant also allowed us to offer “non-traditional” opportunities for our students in their PE class. With new equipment, we were able to teach a wide variety of activities students had not previously been exposed to, such as team building skills and racket sports. This gives our program the opportunity to engage all students and to give them the confidence to participate in a variety of physical activities as they continue to grow.

We also used the OAS grant to purchase some new technology for our students to use in PE. We bought a tripod to hold an iPod so that students can begin to self assess their own skills through recording and observation. We are also getting ready to roll out pedometers that can be uploaded with individual student data at the end of each class. This will allow students to track their steps taken and activity time while in class. The data will be used to help assess the effectiveness of lessons and to encourage students to be fully engaged in class.

Finally, the OAS grant was used to help overhaul the whiteboard in the gym. Students are now using the area to self assess their performance in class. This area is helping the students become more aware of themselves and take control of their own learning.

 

Three Parkdale students play on a balance beam. More students sit on swings behind them.

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

The biggest change I have seen is at recess. Students are now participating in activities at recess that they learned in PE. I like to think that good PE is contagious and not limited to the four walls of the gym. When students are able to take something they learned in class, make it their own and use it outside the classroom, that shows that it is important to them. I also have parents telling me that their students are introducing activities that we are doing in class at home. It makes me smile when a parent tells me, “I played Man in the Mirror with my daughter last night before we went to bed." As the physical education program continues to grow at Parkdale, I will continue to look for ways to make natural changes. For example, some of the staff that supervise recess have been approaching me about the recess equipment. We are already brainstorming about how we can use some of our OAS grant funds from next year to improve our recess program. The OAS grant was the catalyst we needed to start this positive shift in our students.

Coach Hassell continues to come up with new ideas to teach the kids and new tools to use during PE time. The kids love the fast pace and the new, fun activities they are presented with. He also provides teachers with games and activities we can incorporate in the classroom. This saves us enormous amounts of time, because we don't have to teach the students the activities, and we can get them moving in our own classrooms.

 

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

My kindergarten students look forward to seeing Coach Hassell and going to PE every school day (even when PE is not scheduled). Coach's straight-talking, developmentally appropriate teaching captivates my students. They happily go to PE and return to me as sweaty, red-faced, physically-spent and euphoric kinders! After PE, we have 35 more minutes of school. Some days this is a difficult time because my students are tired and looking forward to going home. On PE days, the last part of the day provides a time for focused learning for most of my students. I think this focus comes from the physical activity they just experienced in PE. While I give my students brain and movement breaks throughout my instruction, there is nothing like 40 minutes of physical activity to fire up the brain synapses.

PE is hands down the majority of my students' favorite part of the day. It is a place where they are so engaged mentally and physically. At the end of the day students write memories from their day on slips of paper that go into our memory jar. Every PE day they are excited to write down and remember the game they played, the skills they learned and their successes. We have PE early in the day, and on those days students come back ready to focus and engage in academic content. 

 

Parkdale Elementary School is one of Hood River County School District's eight schools.

 

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.

 

A New Narrative for Racial Equity in Oregon

A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Racial Equity Agenda.

A child stands in a schoolyard, writing in a notebook.

Words are powerful. If you know how to be persuasive with language, you can get a lot done. However, your words can also work against you. If you don’t do the necessary preparation, your message could communicate something you never intended.

Racial Equity Agenda, a Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative, is busy doing that necessary preparation, creating an effective racial equity narrative for Oregon that will help community organizations begin important conversations about race with voters and policymakers, and move Oregon closer to racial equity.

Amanda Manjarrez presenting at the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities gathering of Community Collaboratives in Salem, Oregon.

Amanda Manjarrez presenting at the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities gathering of Community Collaboratives in Salem, Oregon.

On February 7th, 2017, Amanda Manjarrez, Coalition of Communities of Color’s Advocacy Director, stood at the front of a small, windowless conference room in the Salem Convention Center and introduced the idea of a cohesive racial equity narrative to community members and organizers from across the state. She presented examples of how effective narratives and values-based language can be at triggering emotions. For instance, words like “illegal,” “violent criminal” and “radical” have been selected purposefully by politicians to invoke fear about specific races and religions. These words, part of carefully constructed narratives about undocumented immigrants, black men and Muslims, have been used, successfully, to advance policies and candidates. If community organizations in Oregon want to push back against these narratives and have positive conversations about race, we need to construct our own narrative that will spark other emotions that lead to more inclusive communities and shared prosperity.

Unfortunately, people aren’t as logical as they like to think they are. In reality, humans make quick, emotional judgments, then use reasoning to justify those judgments. People also hold contradictory, competing ideas in their heads at the same time. It falls to communicators to choose the right story that will produce the desired emotions and lead an audience to take a specific action, whether that’s voting a certain way, donating to cause or something else.

It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.
— Frank Luntz

Amanda invited EUVALCREE Executive Director Gustavo Morales and Southern Oregon Education Service District’s Migrant Education Program Parent Involvement Specialist Monserrat Alegria to share their experiences having conversations about race. Both Gustavo and Monse live in rural Oregon communities (Ontario and Medford, respectively). They’ve been part of meetings where participants will get up and leave if “race” or “equity” are mentioned. They’ve seen their community members homes vandalized, families afraid to go home. According to Gustavo and Monse, the best way to start a conversation about racial equity where they live isn’t by talking about racial equity; it’s by opening with shared values like opportunity, children and families, and community building. These are narratives that almost everyone can connect with.

Racial Equity Agenda’s goal is to find a narrative that will work for all Oregonians, a way to talk about racial equity that won’t cause people to shut down or leave the room, and will result in decision-making tables including more people of color. In order to accomplish this goal, Coalition of Communities of Color is partnering with several culturally-specific and mainstream organizations, including Native American Youth and Family Center, Latino Network, Unite Oregon, Urban League of Portland, KairosPDX, Causa Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Hacienda CDC, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization and Self Enhancement, Inc. By coordinating to use a unifying narrative for their work, their impact will be great.

Youth Unite for Social Justice

A spotlight on Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Youth Equity Collaborative.

The Youth Equity Collaborative at the Oregon Students of Color Conference.

The Youth Equity Collaborative at the Oregon Students of Color Conference.

Youth voices often go unnoticed and unrecognized in social justice movements. Youth leaders are undervalued due to their "lack of experience." But, when it comes to youth, people are measuring experience the wrong way. Youth have plenty of experience – their own lived experience. Youth are their own experts.

The Youth Equity Collaborative, made up of youth-led social justice organizations, including Multnomah Youth Commission, Latino Unidos Siempre, CAPACES Leadership Institute, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon's Youth Environmental Justice Alliance, Oregon Students of Color Coalition with Oregon Student Association and Momentum Alliance, values and prioritizes youth voices.

The Youth Equity Collaborative encourages collective youth action and including youth at decision making tables when the decisions will affect youth, because youth are capable of making change. 

Some of the challenges youth face are lack of affordable transportation, financial support and accommodations for their participation, as well as lack of opportunities. The Youth Equity Collaborative does its best to support our youth and aims to remove barriers by providing reimbursement for transportation, providing bust tickets and childcare as needed. They also provide opportunities for youth to explore, network and participate in leadership development by sending them to conferences, gatherings and lobby days.

Why did the organizations that are part of the Youth Equity Collaborative choose to join the Youth Equity Collaborative?

  • To build relationships and network across organizations.
  • To engage the community on a greater scale.
  • To create a coherent and unified youth voice across the state.
  • To learn and share effective organizational practices.
  • To foster a support network for youth involved in social justice movements.

What has the Youth Equity Collaborative been doing lately?

  • Building relationships, including meeting monthly, playing fun games and discussing what "our future looks like."
  • Participating in the Oregon Students of Color Conference and Communities Collaborate gatherings and traveling together.
  • Creating content for social media campaigns.
  • Creating a political agenda.

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.

Two Stories from Eastern Oregon

Two stories from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Eastern Oregon Latino Alliance for Children and Families, which is led by EUVALCREE.

Insights from a Latina Youth Leader

Ontario School District representative Benardina Navarrete and High School Student Genesis Romero stand on either side of an Ontario School District banner in the hallway of Alameda Elementary School.

Ontario School District representative Benardina Navarrete and High School Student Genesis Romero stand on either side of an Ontario School District banner in the hallway of Alameda Elementary School.

Genesis Romero is a EUVALCREE volunteer and a senior at Vale High School in Vale, OR. For her senior project she organized a resource fair to inform Latino families of existing resources and services in the community.

The event took place on October 8th from 10am to 2pm at Alameda Elementary School in Ontario, OR.

Later that evening, Genesis participated in a focus group hosted by EUVALCREE to discuss community needs with one of our major partners, Saint Alphonsus Medical Center - Ontario. She shared insights from her own experience, as well as her learnings from the event she organized. Genesis said: The best thing a student can have is the support of their teachers. Unfortunately, more often then not, students are not supported by their teachers and, furthermore, are frequently disregarded as someone who is not going to accomplish much in life.

Genesis is graduating from high school this year. She dreams of becoming a forensic scientist and, later, a medical examiner. 

 

EUVALCREE Assesses Hard-to-Reach Community Members' Needs

A EUVALCREE Community Organizer provides information on leadership and advocacy courses, and how to become a volunteer, at a table draped with a EUVALCREE banner. Three women and two kids crowd around the table.

A EUVALCREE Community Organizer provides information on leadership and advocacy courses, and how to become a volunteer, at a table draped with a EUVALCREE banner. Three women and two kids crowd around the table.

EUVALCREE recently conducted a different kind of community assessment. How was it different? They focused on reaching the community members that are hard to reach - the ones who have not accessed services or resources, or replied to a questionnaire asking what they could use to help them achieve their dreams for themselves and their families.

The collection period occurred over the course of four months. 17 trained volunteers went door to door in Malheur County, Oregon, and Payette and Washington Counties, Idaho. The average household visit was approximately 60 minutes. With almost 900 volunteer hours in data collection, 497 community assessments were collected. The data was transcribed over the course of two months, and the results are currently being analyzed.

From this information, EUVALCREE is developing a strategic plan to address the identified community needs and make the changes necessary to move the Eastern Oregon Latino community forward. Results will be made public once a strategic plan is adopted, and the strategic plan will be made public as well. 

 

Read more about EUVALCREE in The Ford Family Foundation's publication, Community Vitality

Oregon Active Schools: Green Acres Elementary School

This blog is the fifth 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.

Playworks

[Image description: Elementary school-aged kids jump rope on a playground blacktop.]

HERE'S WHAT GREEN ACRES STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

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

A. We used Oregon Active Schools funding for a variety of things at our school! One-third of the funds were used to purchase new equipment for before school activities in the gym. Students enter the gym before school and now have equipment that is developmentally appropriate to help them start off their day with physical activity and movement. We also used some of the funds to purchase “Brain Break” books for all of the classrooms in our school. Teachers now have a book filled with ideas for quick brain breaks in order to promote more movement throughout the school day.

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

A. Students love to move, and by providing resources to encourage this they are able to move more. For example, now teachers don’t have to worry about coming up with a quick activity on their own. They can easily grab the Brain Break book, flip to a page, perform an activity to get the class moving, and then re-engage in the learning that needs to take place within three to five minutes. Also, with more equipment readily available more students can start their day with physical activity. Rather than having to stand in a long line to wait for a jump rope or basketball, we have enough equipment for students to work in small groups.

Q. How have these funds supported your students' cultural and regional identities?

A. We were able to purchase equipment that isn’t necessarily “traditional” in order to expose students to new physical activities that they may enjoy. Perhaps a student doesn’t like to be physically active because they don’t like traditional team sports. With funds we were able to purchase things students had never heard of, like Chinese jump ropes, omnikin balls and Velcro catch and throw sets.

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

A. Physical activity is vital for students. Our bodies were made to move, and when we expect students to sit in a desk all day with minimal movement they become disengaged. However, when incorporating movement into the learning process, students are able to learn while also being physically active. In addition I believe it is important to expose students to a variety of activities. If they find something they enjoy they are more likely to continue being physically active as they age, which leads to a healthy, productive life.

Green Acres Elementary School is one of Lebanon Community School District's eight schools.

 

Warm Springs Youth Build Power for Political Participation

Photo courtesy of the Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page. Photo credit to Jayson Smith.

Photo courtesy of the Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page. Photo credit to Jayson Smith.

[Image description: A candidate with a long braid and glasses speaks into a standing microphone. Three candidates sit behind.]

At the beginning of 2016, Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition and the Warm Springs Youth Council formed a partnership around voter education for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Their first project was a candidate forum held in Warm Springs, Oregon on March 7th, 2016.

This forum gave local Tribal Council candidates running for the upcoming Warm Springs Tribal Council elections an opportunity to interact with the community and share their strengths, concerns and positions on issues the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is facing. It also served to highlight the upcoming Bureau of Indian Affairs Secretarial Election and allowed tribal members, as well as the Warm Springs Youth Council, to raise and discuss thoughts about issues that would be on the Secretarial Election ballot. These included various proposed changes to the make-up of the Tribal Council and the process of electing Tribal Council members, as well as a proposed change to lower the voting age to 18.

Photo courtesy of Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Warm Springs Youth Council Facebook page.

[Image description: Six Warm Springs Youth Council members, wearing black t-shirts that read "BUILD COMMUNITY," pose around a Warm Springs Youth Council banner.]

In preparation for the forum, the Warm Springs Youth Council developed questions that incorporated the Secretarial Election’s proposed changes, history of the tribe, education and youth concerns. The forum was organized and hosted by the Youth Council with support from Let's Talk Diversity Coalition, Warm Springs Prevention Team and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. It was the first candidate forum to be organized in the history of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Twenty-four hours before the event, the Youth Council contacted Let's Talk Diversity Coalition, requesting us to provide a sign language interpreter for the event. Thanks to regional and local connections, we were able to locate an interpreter for the event and pay him for his services. It's definitely worthwhile to build those relationships before they're needed! The community expressed appreciation of the interpretation services, not to mention the opportunity to hear from Tribal Council candidates.

Let's Talk Diversity Coalition continues to partner with the Warm Springs Youth Council and looks forward to the upcoming voter education collaborations, and to building power with our young leaders!

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.