How Knowledge about Heart Disease & Disaster Preparedness Empowers Parents at New Academy Canoga Park

When I first started teaching sessions for the American Heart Association at NACP, I didn’t know what to expect. New Economics for Women invited me to campus because it’s important for parents to learn about heart disease in order to protect themselves and their families from it. I never imagined the parents at NACP would become so dedicated and motivated after only the first class. 

My first lesson was about how physical activity is needed to maintain a healthy heart. After this class, our parents took the initiative to meet me before lessons and get our blood flowing by walking around the school. They started exercising everyday and constantly cheered each other on by inviting one another to meet up for workouts. 

I also led a series of American Red Cross classes that focused more on disaster and emergency preparedness. It was nice to see how honest these parents were. During conversations, they would affirm that they knew they should be prepared with medical supplies and food.  However, they also acknowledged that they hadn’t, for one reason or another, taken the steps to actually prepare their homes. But again, these parents took action right away and, along the way, shared their progress on equipping their homes for emergencies. 

It was an honor to work with this group of parents. As a group, they always worked together and, individually, they were each so attentive to the safety and health of their families. Even outside of class, I enjoyed coordinating with the parent liaison Vanesa. She always makes herself available and does everything she can to help. My favorite part of this experience was the positive attitude of the parents, which I think is a real testament to their community at NACP. When a school cares, parents and students are empowered to become their best selves. Now that our classes are over, I’ve moved to doing individual sessions over Zoom with each parent. I’m so excited to continue my work with this community and see how knowledge about heart disease and disaster preparedness inspires them to make changes for themselves and for their families. When provided with the right knowledge and resources, our communities have the ability to be leaders in their own health and safety journeys.

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Patricia Rizo

Patricia Rizo

Patricia Rizo is a proud Esperanza Community Housing Promotora. As a partner of the American Heart Association and American Red Cross, she’s passionate about spreading awareness about heart disease and disaster preparedness to Latinx communities. Patricia is dedicated to working towards health equity and also supporting the work of her fellow promotoras and promotores who fight for health justice in immigrant communities.

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