Celebrating Agricultural Worker Health Day - A Focus on FJ's Partnership with Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and Migrant Health Centers

Marcos, Lilia and their three children share an apartment close to town. Marcos works in the strawberry fields and has a schedule that often fluctuates with the changing tasks through the season. Lilia works at a landscaping company that has pretty consistent yet long hours and is a 45 minute drive from her home. Although Marcos works in close proximity to their home his hours, too, are long. Their two youngest children attend the local Migrant Head Start Center and their oldest is at the neighborhood elementary school. Because of their erratic schedule, often a relative or family friend will pick up the children from school and bring them to their own house until one of the parents has finished with work. This makes it difficult to follow an after-school routine. Marcos and Lilia have talked about the importance of making sure their children are active after school finishes for the day but are unsure about how they can make this happen while they are often still at work.

This is the premise of a case study that was developed by Farmworker Justice (FJ) in collaboration with the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office (NMSHSCO) for the Juntos Nos Movemos Project. Juntos Nos Movemos seeks to help farmworker parents make the most of limited free time with their children by giving parents the skills to identify small blocks of time in which to engage in a variety of fun and culturally appropriate physical activities with their children. According to 2017 data, about 14% of children enrolled in Migrant and Seasonal Head Start are overweight and about 20% are obese. However, there is a lack of culturally competent materials that address childhood obesity in agricultural worker communities. The case study is part of a curriculum designed for farmworker parents that gives participants the opportunity to delve into their busy daily and weekly routines, identify specific challenges they might be facing in regards to exercise and movement with their young children, and brainstorm creative solutions to incorporating more opportunities for movement into their daily lives. In addition to the curriculum developed specifically for farmworker parents, FJ and NMSHSCO created a companion curriculum and flipchart for use by staff. Both curricula present a variety of engaging, thought-provoking activities, leaving parents and outreach staff alike with a set of tactile actions they can take to increase movement in their daily lives, and the live of the families they seek to support.

Earlier this summer FJ and NMSHSCO facilitated the pilot trainings for Juntos Nos Movemos with staff and parents from the Fresno Migrant Head Start and the United Health Centers in Selma, CA. The participants were lively and engaged, identifying with the material and deepening the activities with shared moments and reflections from their personal lives and work in farmworker communities. Throughout the course of the training they created a selection of activities that they were eager to use with their families once they returned home. “This was such a fun day, full of laughter and a feeling of fiesta,” said Maria, one of the participants. “It’s so much easier to come up with these interesting ideas to try when we’re all working together.”

That is, at its heart, the idea behind Juntos Nos Movemos – to provide families and community outreach workers with the opportunity to identify challenges in their lives and problem-solve together, in a way that leaves participants feeling motivated for change. In celebration of Agricultural Worker Health Day (and National Health Center Week), we honor the incredible strength and drive of the farmworkers in our communities and seek to continue to find ways to support their health and well-being.

More information about National Health Center Week and National Agricultural Worker Health Day can be found at healthcenterweek.org.

By: Rebecca Young, Senior Project Director – Community Engagement