WARSAW — In the regular monthly meeting of the Warsaw Community School Board on Monday, July 20, the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition met with board members to give an update on the programs effects in Warsaw Community Schools.
The presentation was led by NIHHC Executive Director Liliana Quintero and Outreach Coordinator Kyle Lowe. Quintero explained the Warsaw NIHHC office opened in November 2010 at the K21 pavilion. The program was funded locally by K21 and United Way. According to Quintero, in the past 6 months alone, the organization has provided 3,768 free health screenings for over 529 participants. These screenings are reportedly worth a total of $130,000 in savings for local families.
NIHHC provides numerous programs to both students and community members. The program’s mission is to “provide preventative health care programs to the community through education, advocacy, physician referrals, research and the building of leadership among hispanics, so that they may lead healthier lifestyles.”
This mission spans over numerous programs including the Bienvenido program, which improves the mental health and quality of life of Latino immigrants. This is accomplished through aiding the adjustment to their life in a new country by maintaining a positive attitude; reducing the emotional risks associated with the acculturation process (insecurity, embarrassment, fear, isolation, unworthiness); reducing fear and stigmatization associated with perceived racism; and instilling confidence to manage and overcome language barriers.
The program consisted of six weekly sessions for six students, five of whom were from Guatemala and one hailing from Mexico. The program statistics improved student’s sense of family and self. In addition, nearly all students in the program reported they would likely pursue college.
An additional program that has seen some success is the “Healthy Hearts” program. The objective of the program is to help children gain knowledge in regards to nutrition and exercise; take ownership of their health by beginning to self-manage their daily habits; and have parents follow their children’s healthy habits.
Metrics were provided to demonstrate percentages of students overweight or obese at schools. At Harrison and Jefferson Elementary schools, in 2013 190 students were polled with 31.5 percent overweight or obese; in 2014, 225 students from Harrison and Jefferson Elementary schools were polled with a total of 33.1 percent overweight or obese; in 2015, 157 were polled from Harrison, Jeferson and Leesburg with 39 percent of those students reported as overweight or obese. This data indicates a higher percentage of obese and overweight children locally than the 2003-2004 statewide percentage of 35 percent.
In addition, NIHHC reports children of parents with a high BMI tend to score lower on perceived mental health areas, which reportedly correlates to a decrease in GPA. The program is actively working to educate students on improving their health and habits.
NIHHC noted a Back-To-School Health Fair will soon take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at the Warsaw Career Center Gym. The fair will provide health screens for lipid panels (a 12 hour fasting is required), back, kidney, anemia (for adults and children), total cholesterol, glucose, BMI (for adults and children) and A1C (only for diabetics).
Book bags filled with supplies will also be provided and are free until 1 p.m. or while supplies last. No appointment is needed and all children must be accompanied by an adult.
In other business, WCS appointed two of the three members of the Warsaw Multi-School Building Corporation, a non-profit organization that assists in facilitating the construction of corporation buildings. The group will be able to issue bonds and pay off bonds. At the end of the process, property managed by the corporation will be transferred back to WCS. Scott Tucker, Dr. Steve Hollar and Dr. Lee Harmon, all of Warsaw, will act as the three representatives of the corporation.