Promotora partnerships in the creation of the ¡Haz Espacio para Papi! program to engage Mexican-heritage youth and fathers


Voted Most Innovative Design Award

BACKGROUND and PURPOSE Physical activity (PA) has been related to many significant health benefits; however, many families do not meet PA guidelines. Families living in rural, low income, or minority communities are at greater risk of not meeting these guidelines. Hispanic children, in particular, are less likely to meet PA recommendations when compared to non-Hispanic white children. Additionally, Mexican-heritage populations are at a higher risk for obesity than the general population. A particularly hard to reach and underserved population of Mexican-heritage individuals resides in colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border which are functionally-rural Hispanic communities with residents of very low socioeconomic status. Culturally relevant programs are needed to adequately address disparities in these communities. The over-arching objective of the five-year USDA-funded “Salud Para Usted y Su Familia” (Health for You and Your Family; SPUSF) project was to develop, implement, and evaluate a father-focused, family-centered program aimed at improving fruit and vegetable consumption, increasing PA, and enhancing family communication. This presentation aims to describe development of the ¡Haz Espacio para Papi! (Make Room for Daddy!; HEPP) PA curriculum to inform additional culturally relevant curricula.

DESCRIPTION As part of the HEPP program, we created a six-week PA curriculum in collaboration with promotora-researchers (community health workers), members of the community trained in engagement, outreach, and research. This curriculum was refined through an iterative process of creation, review, testing, and revisions. In its final form, the curriculum includes weekly interactive lessons, take home challenges, and self-monitoring tracking sheets. The presentation will describe these elements in further detail.

LESSONS LEARNED The curriculum development process required substantial time but was necessary in creating an effective program for the community. This process would not have been possible without the partnership of promotora-researchers. The curriculum used lessons which built on progress made in previous weeks while attempting to teach basic movement concepts and encourage creative, active play for the whole family. One well-received curricular approach focused on embracing traditions by adding active variations to traditional games played among Mexican-heritage families. Curricular activities engaged father, mother, and child, but primarily focused on the father-child working together in light-to-moderate PA while allowing them to learn new ways to spend time together.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS Researchers should be prepared to take time developing and testing community programs. Using a promotora-research model is particularly helpful for researchers to develop feasible and acceptable health program curricula. Programs focused on father-child interactions may benefit from incorporating a balance of lessons; some lessons for fathers alone to learn and build certain skills, with other lessons focused on encouraging interaction, co-participation, or concurrent play with their child.

NEXT STEPS The ¡Haz Espacio para Papi! program is currently being pilot-tested and evaluated; results are forthcoming.

FUNDING SOURCE This project is made possible by funding from USDA-NIFA (#2015-68001-23234).

Feb 2, 2020
Active Living Conference 2020
Orlando, Florida