Tongan and Latino Nutrition Classes in Lennox


By Scott Chan

APIOPA has been working with the Tongan Community Service Center (TCSC) on the issue of safe parks for community members in Lennox. Our project is called Project Safe, Active, Family Environments for APIs (Project Safe for APIs), and the goal is to create policy that increases access to healthy environments for our community members to be active.

This has not been an easy task: building safe communities requires us to build bridges amongst community members. About half a year ago, one of our allies shared with us a grand idea on how to bridge different communities located in areas deemed “unsafe.” The idea was that health brings together communities of all sorts, and that if we were to hold a nutrition workshop geared towards young mothers/caregivers, we could bring Tongan and Latino mothers together.

Partnering with California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), we created a 4-workshop curriculum that not only addressed nutrition education for young mothers, but we also had an advocacy component to them. Yes, making sure your child eats right and gets enough physical activity is important; however, what happens when your child does not have access to healthy food or healthy environments?


At the end of the 4 workshops, a few participants were asked to present what they learned to the local Lennox Coordinating Council. One Latino mother shared that she learned that she needed to be an advocate for her child, and that change starts with her. Another Tongan caregiver shared that she had the opportunity to befriend someone outside of the Tongan community, and that events like these are where community building and community healing begin.

Between April and May 2013, APIOPA and CCPHA engaged a group of local Tongan and Latino mothers/caregivers, and conducted a class that was offered in English, Spanish and Tongan. Participants met every Wednesday for an hour and a half at Lennox Park.