More than 250 people attended the 8th annual Latinas Fuertes Y Saludables — Latinas: Strong and Healthy — a life-affirming program for Hispanic women who are empowered with education about healthy living and encouraged to share their knowledge with others, Oct. 26 at Bayard Middle School in Wilmington, Del. This Spanish language event is sponsored by Christiana Care and partner agencies including Arsht Cannon Foundation, AstraZeneca, the Delaware Breast Coalition, Westside Family Healthcare, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, Delaware’s Division of Public Health, Latin American Community Center, American Cancer Society, Nemours, St. Francis Healthcare and the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia Affiliate.
Spanish-speaking Christiana Care outreach workers, volunteers and staff, assisted by medical interpreters, arranged screenings for blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and cancer assessment for 70 people. Henrietta Johnson Medical Center staff gave 88 flu shots, and the Women’s Health Mobile Screening Van provided 11 women with mammograms.
This year’s event featured a healthy marketplace where attendees could speak with dietitians and learn tips and recipes for healthy eating.
“I used a sample dinner plate of food to demonstrate healthy portions,” said Elena Schumacher, RD, oncology dietitian at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center. “It was great! People were taking pictures of the plate with their phones so they could share it with their friends and families.”
Afternoon sessions focused on healthy babies and healthy families. Carla Aponte, Christiana Care community educator, and Angelica Siena, Westside Healthcare health ambassador, talked to women and men about the importance of good health before pregnancy and provided information to help prevent premature births, a leading cause of death in newborn babies.
Luisa Ortiz-Aponte, Healthy Families project manager, and Marielena Vélez de Brown, M.D., program coordinator for Healthy Families at the Latin American Community Center, spoke to the audience about how to make their families and homes healthier. “As we make the families and homes in our community safer, we are on the path to make a healthier Hispanic community, one family at a time,” Ortiz-Aponte said.
Morning sessions focused on breast-health education, breast-cancer screenings and reducing obesity to reduce breast-cancer risk. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in Hispanic women, according to the American Cancer Society. The audience learned about breast health, the importance of family history and dispelling the myths surrounding screenings and cancer through skits by Joceline Valentin, women’s health navigator at Christiana Care, Sandra Marquez, cancer patient navigator at Saint Francis Hospital, Elena Blanca, American Cancer Society volunteer and breast cancer survivor, and Zohra Ali-Khan Catts, Christiana Care genetic counselor. Fanilda Shaw, manager of community team policy at Nemours Health & Prevention, engaged the audience with healthy food tips. Ledy Ochoa a cancer survivor, talked about how her experience with colon cancer led her to become a promotora, a volunteer helping to educate her community about health.
The annual Latina conference is part of Christiana Care’s year-round effort to improve access to health care, screenings and preventive care. By providing free tests and bilingual education in a community setting, Christiana Care and partners are working together to remove barriers to care reach people in need.
Maria Cabrera, Wilmington city councilwoman, presented Christiana Care with a proclamation for hosting the annual Latina conference, being a “good neighbor” and improving the quality of life of Wilmington residents.
Photo gallery: 8th Annual Latinas: Strong and Healthy conference
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