Fundación Astra Teaches Nutrition with Games Abrapalabra-FANLAP

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By Judy Peterson

In the Summer 2018 issue of the Baja Citizen, you’ll find an article written by Susan Fogel with the title “Apoyo La Paz, A Free Health Clinic Opens in El Centenario.” Since the article was published, the name of the non-profit organization has changed from “Apoyo La Paz” to “Fundación Astra”.

Fundacion Astra is an integrated community health clinic, based in the town of El Centenario, which will offer free direct health services including general medicine, nutrition, psychology counseling, as well as preventive services in physical and mental health and nutrition to the most vulnerable of the community.

After interviewing the founding members of the clinic, Susan was kind enough to introduce us to Francoise Begaux, Program Manager for Fundación Astra.  After meeting with her and discussing how Astra’s preventive and health education efforts could benefit FANLAP’s children and adult beneficiaries, we invited Francoise to a site visit of our facility.   We discussed working together for a common goal:  assuring that the children of the colonias receive health education messages that teach the importance of proper nutrition.  We agreed to get together after more of the Board members of Fundación Astra were in BCS.

On Friday, November 23rd, Nancy Harris, M.D., President and Founder of Fundacion Astra, Francoise Begaux and Yahn Vazquez, Nutritionist and Clinic Administrator, visited Biblioteca Infantil Abrapalabra – FANLAP which is in our combined dining room/library/learning center in Colonia Laguna Azul.

The focus of the health education messages emphasized the importance of proper nutrition and its relationship to prevention of infectious and chronic diseases, such as reduced immunity and frequent infections, as well as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.  A major focus is the reduction of added sugar in the child’s diet.

An entertaining activity demonstrated the amount of sugar added to popular commercial beverages particularly soda, fruit juices and processed dairy beverages. The child was asked to guess how many teaspoons of sugar are in the beverage, then spoon out the actual quantity from a bag of sugar into a transparent cup. This is an impactful demonstration that often brings gasps of realization when children see that a single can of Coca Cola has 8 teaspoons of sugar, and then visually appreciate that small mountain of sugar.  

Rather than giving lectures, Yahn was able to communicate these messages through entertaining games developed by Fundacion Astra, which engage and fascinate the children, and encourage learning and creativity. It seems the children had a great time!

Thank you so much to Paola, the teacher from Abrapalabra, for opening her classroom to the Fundación Astra team to deliver their health education games and activities.  And thank you, Susan, for introducing me to Francoise Begaux!

In 1986, Judy Peterson and her late husband, Pete, set sail from San Francisco to travel the world. But during a “brief” stop in La Paz, they bought a house, sold the boat and started helping with a breakfast program in Colonia Marquez de Leon. Fast-forward 30 years and Judy is very much active in FANLAP and the community of La Paz.