By Johnny Flores,
Coachella, Calif. — After weeks of hard work, a mural at Bagdouma Park was unveiled earlier this month by First Five Riverside and AmeriCorps volunteers.
First 5 and AmeriCorps recently developed the Building Healthy Smiles Curriculum, which encourages kids to brush their teeth and make healthy food choices. Part of the services that First 5 provides in the Eastern Coachella Valley is providing brushing kits at elementary schools. Each kit includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, a cup, and a timer. First 5 also teaches children proper techniques in being healthy and brushing their teeth.
Created by artist Alex Aguirre, with the assistance of AmeriCorps volunteers, the mural reads “Happy Healthy Kids” along the top.
“We wanted to create something that embodies the curriculum that we created,” said Andrea Lara-Jara, who oversaw the project for First 5 Riverside.
Part of the mural unveiling ceremony was allowing local children to place their handprint onto the finished mural.
“We wanted to show that this mural is for kids by letting them be a part of it,” said Lara-Jara. “We wanted to show kids to be proud of what they helped create. Many of the kids have interests in art and building.”
According to the event press release, First 5 Riverside AmeriCorps volunteers provide oral health, nutrition and physical activity education among Riverside County children ages 3-5 and their families. Throughout their service year, members seek additional ways to impact communities.
The team chose Coachella for this mural service project, hoping to continue the momentum created by recent healthy living efforts. The Eastern Coachella Valley is one of 14 Building Healthy Communities, a 10-year health improvement initiative funded by The California Endowment. In addition, the City of Coachella is currently incorporating a community health and wellness element to its general plan, which is expected to be finalized in the fall.
First 5 Riverside is funded by tobacco taxes generated by Proposition 10, which passed in November 1998 to ensure that the youngest Californians, from prenatal to 5 years old, get the best possible start in life. The statewide initiative added a 50-cent tax per pack of cigarettes and a comparable tax on other tobacco products. According to its website, First 5 Riverside’s vision is that all children in Riverside County are healthy and thriving in supportive, nurturing and loving environments, and enter school ready to learn and embrace lifelong learning.
For more information about First 5 Riverside, visit http://www.rccfc.org.