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Brain Health in the Hispanic Community

Posted on 10/26/2016 @ 12:45 AM

Credit: Latino Briefs Digest

By: Yvette Peña, Vice President, Multicultural Leadership Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy, AARP

Do you worry about your brain health declining as you get older? Most people do.

And members of the Hispanic community have as much reason as anybody else: We have a higher rate of Alzheimer’s disease than the overall U.S. population, and many of us have risk factors that could spell trouble when we get older.

But we shouldn’t be passive about it. Most people can do more to stay sharp as the years add up.

My own family illustrates the challenge.

I remember my Tia Ramona as a smart, dedicated and loving woman, living in an apartment filled with children’s books. She had been a teacher in the Dominican Republic. Then, after moving to New York, she ran a child care program out of her home, teaching many kids how to read.

But about nine years ago, Ramona was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Now, in her late 80s, she needs help with the basic activities of life.

My mother is still vibrant at 75. But like Ramona she has diabetes, which is a risk factor for cognitive decline. She is starting to worry that she can’t remember things like she used to.

Looking back on my life, I think about how my family members could have benefited from education and resources on the basics of a balanced diet, and how the food we eat can affect our health.

This is vital information for the Hispanic community. We have above-average rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and heart disease – all risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

So it’s important to do what we can to stay mentally sharp. The good news is there are plenty of steps we can take to help ourselves. AARP points to “five pillars” of brain health, based on the latest scientific research: keeping fit, eating right, learning more, managing stress and being social.

I know it can be hard to get off the couch and start exercising regularly. If you’re like me, it helps to make exercise more social. Find an exercise partner. Go on regular walks with a neighbor or friend. Are you concerned about your mother’s fitness? Take her with you to Zumba class. (I realize you may not take Zumba, or she may not live nearby – but you get the idea.)

One of the great strengths of the Hispanic community is our devotion to family. My Tia Ramona will never lack for caregivers. She was a mother to us all. She gave so much. Now it’s our turn to give back to her. And I know others feel the same way about their loved ones. In our community, families take care of their own.

But, of course, we all want to stay independent for as long as we can. That means we should make a priority of eating right, getting exercise and doing all the things that can help preserve brain health – not just for a few weeks or a short-lived New Year’s resolution but as part of our lifestyle.

These common-sense practices are good for everyone. And that certainly includes the Hispanic community.

To learn more about what you can do for your own brain health, you can find helpful information (in Spanish) at For tools and resources (in English) go to or

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LULAC and SeaWorld San Diego Empower Latino Youth at Far West Regional Youth Conference

Posted on 10/05/2016 @ 12:45 AM

By: Cristina Sandoval, LULAC National Workforce Development Programs Coordinator

LULAC is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of leaders by exposing underserved youth to opportunities that can shape their future career goals. In April of 2016, LULAC hosted the Far West Regional LULAC Youth Conference in partnership with SeaWorld San Diego. The two-day leadership summit provided middle and high school students with the resources and tools to become leaders in their communities while exposing them to STEM opportunities.

A total of 85 youth from 5 different states were hosted overnight on SeaWorld grounds at their Adventure Day Camp dormitories, giving them a taste of the college dormitory life. As the largest ethnic group in the United States, it is important to provide empowering opportunities that encourage Latinos to pursue higher education.

Over the course of two days, SeaWorld San Diego exposed the youth to numerous STEM career opportunities that created unique opportunities for youth to explore science through interactive experiences such as feeding bat rays, dissecting squids, and hearing from SeaWorld’s own marine biologists. Through the generosity of SeaWorld, Latino youth from underserved communities participated in this unforgettable experience. As a result of these experiences, the youth developed an interest in pursuing STEM careers. One 16-year-old participant stated that she “enjoyed this program not only because it was fun, but because it opened [her] eyes to career opportunities in marine biology.”

This summit was the third event in a longstanding partnership with SeaWorld San Diego. Previously, SeaWorld hosted two overnight camps where several dozen youth were inspired and empowered to connect with animals, care for the natural world, and pursue a career in marine science. A total of 87 students from 4 cities in California participated in this interactive experience with marine animals and were presented with the opportunity to win a $500 scholarship to kick-start their college career.

It’s safe to say that these events were a success with all who attended. A student who attended the camp happily said that it “was very helpful with information on how to help sea creatures. Thank you SeaWorld and LULAC for inspiring me to do my part!”

Click here to see a short clip of the highlights of the Far West Regional LULAC Youth Conference and the overnight camps.

Cristina Sandoval is the LULAC National Workforce Development Programs Coordinator.

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