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UH Moment

UH Moment: “¡Salud Familia!”

A new project from the University of Houston uses the arts to impact health and wellness.  Learn more in this UH Moment.


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“I kick the ball
high to the sky.
Kick it with the other foot
even higher.”

The excerpt is from the book “I Kick the Ball/Pateo el balon” from Arte Público Press. The words are an attack on childhood obesity.

“Obesity and the onset of childhood diabetes are health issues plaguing the Latino children throughout the United States,” said Nicolás Kanellos, University of Houston professor and director of Arte Público Press. “We said that perhaps there was a way to get involved to stem this crisis.”

UH Professor and director of Arte Publico Press, Nicolas KanellosArte Público is the largest publisher of contemporary and recovered Latino authors. The result was ¡Salud Familia! (healthy family) a series of children’s books featuring young protagonists who make good choices about foods, exercise and healthy living.

“We said, ‘let’s do what we do best. Let’s publish books addressing the issues of the need for exercise, the need to take control of public spaces, parks and playgrounds, to promote good healthy eating, and get the messages not only to the kids but also to the parents,'” Kanellos said.

“I Kick the Ball,” by Houston author Gwendolyn Zepeda, is the first of the series. More than 200,000 of each book will be distributed across the country to low-income Latino families with school-aged children. The books are free.

¡Salud Familia! is a multi-pronged project that includes a public service campaign online and on Spanish-language television, and a public policy aspect in the form of white papers published on the issue of childhood obesity. The research will be compiled into a book to be released later this year.

The program is funded by the Marguerite Casey Foundation, The California Endowment, The Simmons Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

¡Salud Familia! is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.