On The Map For Something Good

By Monika Grasley of LifeLine CDC

We are “putting Winton on the map for something good” is the consistent slogan of an ever growing group of Winton community members who are looking for ways to improve their neighborhood.  They have not always been invited to the table when larger outside groups came into Winton, but in the last 6 months we saw a number of organizations come in and ask for the input of community members and even had them lead the charge!

Winton LifeLine Community Center is always a hub of conversations. People get to know each other, learn about their assets and find out what they care enough to act on. When a large organization from out of town received a grant for “Safe Routes to School” and contacted Winton LifeLine Community Center, they knew it was a good opportunity to partner. They already knew that community members had talked about the lack of safe routes for the children and that now was the right time to act.  This grant empowered community members to address the issue, receive training and learn how to work together for a common goal. While the grant money might be gone, the community members know what they can do to move forward.

When LifeLine CDC had the opportunity to collaborate with the Merced County Health Department through a grant from CA4Health, we did not know what great implications this would have.

The 6-week health class focused on “Chronic Disease Self-Management” and drew 12 people who became engaged in learning about caring for their own health and the health of loved ones. They learned about self-management, stress release, fitness and exercise, goal setting and problem solving. The conversations around the table were priceless, but the most wonderful experience was when three generations came together to learn about diabetes and support each other!

“Mom is in the hospital again!” That was a common call that family members would get. This close-knit Hispanic family would worry about mom and her out-of-control diabetes. The younger generation wondered if they too might end up with a chronic illness. Six family members went through the class together and learned a number of helpful tools.

“I have seen a nutritionist, but that did not help me very much, I just did not know how to eat right,” mom mentioned. Learning about the tools available, having a support system that knows what to look for, learning to create actions plans, and working together on better nutrition helped all of them to be more at ease around diabetes. It motivated the whole family to live healthier and hopefully avoid diabetes for the younger generation.

That was not the end of the class. Out of it came the idea of getting community members together to talk about creating healthier recipes, learning new skills and offering a free exercise class at the Community Center to support each others’ health and weight loss goals. Several of the people who have gone through the program want to be trained to facilitate it so that they can share this important message with their neighbors.

In a poverty-stricken community, healthier choices are not always easy choices, but together they are trying to make a difference for the next generations. As part of the health initiative we, LifeLine CDC, have committed to providing healthier sugar free drinks at all functions and the new ‘spa waters’ are a major hit, even with the kids!

We all live busy lives, but we find that we all long for deeper conversations, deeper issues to work on, and the deeper meaning in life. The Community Center is the hub of learning for all of us. Learning about each other’s gifts, learning what we care about, learning how to make a difference in Winton, learning how to help each other and dream with each other. Together we are putting Winton on the map for something good!

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