Advocating Within Her Family
July 29, 2013 | Chicago, IL
A few years ago, Rosalina Mendes’ husband died, leaving her and three daughters behind. Rosalina was left with the task of raising three teenage daughters on her own. The Mendes family emigrated from Mexico and did not find it an easy transition, only finding jobs that paid just at or below a sustainable living wage. With her husband gone, and with no safety nets in the United States, she had to do double duty. Rosalina’s story is an inspirational one just by raising three daughters by herself; however, her story goes deeper due to her commitment to improving her family’s health. When she took the position of Parent Health Promoter (a parent council comprised of parents from Erie programs to empower them to be active members in their children’s activities), she entered into a new transformative chapter for herself and her daughters.
During Parent Health Promoters training, there are many exercises that a promoter has to perform. Up to this point Rosalina had been the sole advocate for her family, but now she realized that longevity relied on adjusting the health habits of the family and she needed to advocate inside her family unit. While in the Parent Health Promoters, one has to come up with a set list of goals to accomplish for their family’s health. One of Rosalina’s goals was to remove soda from their diets and with her new found skills through advocating for community health she brought this issue home to her daughters. At first there was a lot of pushback from her teen daughters about the soda ban in the household. With a little bit of education about the dangers of these beverages, her daughters started to see the light. They quickly started to notice their skin improving, some weight loss, and more energy. This was a huge boost to the morale of the family and also the beginning of new goals that they could all work on together. They have adjusted other foods in their diets and now see the importance of communicating with one another to work on other goals that they would like to achieve.
Rosalina is an incredible example of a person that puts into action what she has learned. She is a woman that did not back down when it might have seemed like there was going to be a lot of darkness for her family. Preventive health and leadership strategies were instrumental in getting her to that point, but Rosalina is the one that made this a way of life and with health, the individual has to commit to these changes. Rosalina is in her second year as a Parent Health Promoter and shares her stories to the new crop of health promoters. This has been inspirational because she is a person that lives by example. Her example shows that no matter how small, the change can make such an incredible impact on the family and the community. Rosalina Mendes is a true success story.