West Side pride
by Catherine DuncanAdelita Cantu, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor of family and community health systems, grew up on the city’s West Side. "That is my barrio. I have gotten so much from my career in nursing. I want to give back, and there are limited resources on the West Side."
Dr. Cantu partners with local non-profit and governmental agencies to improve the health of these residents while providing nursing students invaluable hands-on experience. As part of these programs, nursing students work with residents to encourage healthy eating, exercise and behavioral changes that affect their overall health. To accomplish these goals, she has developed health-related projects including:
Dr. Cantu (right) takes pride in the positive effects projects like Healthy Choices for Kids have on the community and on nursing students.
For the past five summers, nursing students team with Good Samaritan staff members to host the Healthy Choices for Kids day camp. Children have fun while learning about diet, exercise and other healthy choices.
Undergraduate nursing students work with the elderly at the Senior Center. Students use culturally appropriate practices to show seniors how to make food in a healthier manner. Students also walk with seniors to encourage exercise.
La Fe Policy Research & Education Center
Dr. Cantu and the non-profit center received an AARP grant targeting seniors who are food insecure on the West Side. Nursing students educate seniors about resources available for getting food.
(Left to right) 12-year-olds Gisselle Hernandez, Evelyn Acosta and Angelina Uriegas received medals in the Healthy Choices for Kids jump rope competition at Good Samaritan Community Services on the city’s West Side. Healthy Choices, created by Adelita Cantu, Ph.D., RN, is a curriculum taught by nursing students from the UT Health Science Center.
She worked with the public agency to receive a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities. This program concentrates on food deserts, which are areas on the West Side lacking healthy food availability. In seven convenience stores, the program provided refrigerated units to hold fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
Healthy Futures of Texas
Dr. Cantu partnered with the non-profit corporation to prevent unplanned pregnancies in teens and adults. Nursing students will use the Abstinence-Plus program in the community.
"In all of the programs, I give direction, but the nursing students do the teaching and work with the community members," she said. "This gives the students a perspective they will not get from just treating patients at the bedside. Students must understand the context of the community in order to better treat each individual patient."
UT Health Science Center
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