Finding Community at a First 5 Center

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Nain and her daughter at the West County First 5 Center in 2007.

When Nain Lopez drives by the West County First 5 Center, her daughters always point and say, “There’s our First 5.”

The Lopez family began taking First 5 Center classes seven years ago, even before the San Pablo site was open. At the time, Nain was new to the U.S., caring for her infant daughter Yenuen without family nearby and with few friends. Isolated and alone, and adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mother, Nain was experiencing postpartum depression.

She decided to take an infant massage class at the Center, and she’s been going ever since. She now attends with her four-year-old daughter Rebeca. Nain says the classes and families she met at the First 5 Center helped her recover from postpartum depression and became her lifeline. Continue reading

Soda Taxes Fail…But the Facts Remain

http://www.fit-for-life.org

Richmond has had the national spotlight for the last few weeks, and for good reason. The City, later joined by El Monte in Southern California, was the first in the nation to place on the ballot a tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. While both measures failed, they did mark an important milestone in the fight against childhood obesity: singling out sugar-sweetened beverages as particularly harmful for children.

Today, children consume nearly twice as many calories from sugary drinks – juice, soda, sports drinks, flavored milk – than they did 30 years ago. What’s also doubled in the last 30 years? The number of overweight preschoolers in the U.S.

While there are many causes for childhood obesity, studies are showing that reducing or eliminating children’s consumption of sugary beverages has the greatest potential for lowering obesity rates.

Sugary beverages are the number one source of added sugar in children’s diets. American children, on average, ingest 40 pounds of sugar each year. Sugar in liquid form is more easily and quickly absorbed by the body. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been definitively linked to obesity, poor health, and tooth decay. In fact, a child’s odds of becoming obese increases by 60% with just one additional sugary drink per day. These children face an increasing likelihood of later health problems such as Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease.

Soda Free Summer's collection of "No on N" materials

The beverage industry spent $2.5 million to defeat the tax in Richmond. That’s a lot of money for a single city’s initiative, but it pales in comparison to the billions the industry spends every year marketing their products to our children – our young children and especially our African American and Latino children (children with the highest rates of obesity). A study by Yale’s Rudd Center found that African American children see about 80% more ads for soda than white children.

Congratulations to Richmond and El Monte for taking a stand to protect our children. The measures may have failed, but the opportunity they created for dialogue and debate has raised national awareness of the crisis. Locally, San Pablo may be next to propose a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. No doubt other cities and states are considering it as well. They have to: the facts remain.

Homeless Shelter Adds Early Intervention Services

Beautifully lit panels of blue sky and trees shine down on children at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program’s (GRIP) family shelter. This is just one of many new features of GRIP’s recently made-over children’s program at their emergency family shelter program.

Over the last several months, with its $126,000 grant from First 5 Contra Costa, GRIP has steadily been enhancing its children’s program to meet the developmental needs of very young homeless children and families. Continue reading

See the New First 5 Center in Richmond

In an effort to provide high-quality programs to even more Richmond families, the West County First 5 Center opened a new satellite site in the city’s Iron Triangle neighborhood last May.

With its main site located in San Pablo, the Center has provided classes to Richmond families over the years by offering programs at various community centers. Now the new site, located at 317 11th Street, will serve as the primary location for all Richmond-based programs.

We recently visited the new site and invite you to watch our video tour!

For more information, please contact (510) 232-5650 or click here for a schedule of classes offered at the new site this month.

Campaign Educates Richmond on Smoke-Free Housing Law

“When one person smokes, the whole building smokes.”

That’s the message of a new public education campaign focused on Richmond’s landmark smoke free multi-unit housing law.  The Tobacco Prevention Coalition of Contra Costa County and the American Lung Association in California produced the campaign with a $13,500 First 5 Contra Costa health promotion grant.

Richmond’s smoke-free multi-unit housing law went into effect in January and requires all apartments and condominiums to be non-smoking.  With 44% of Richmond’s population living in rental housing, the campaign is designed to inform these residents of their new protections and to increase awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke on young children. Continue reading