Health & Fitness

Child Health Notebook: Donors help more Modesto low-income kids get free swim lessons

Modesto Bee

This past week, Central Valley children’s well-being gathered some much needed attention.

Identifying needs and securing resources for Valley kids were the topics for a California State Senate hearing in Fresno.

The Salvation Army received major donations to provide swim lessons for low-income kids, and the local asthma coalition held its annual symposium to discuss contributors and management of asthma in the area. ....

The Salvation Army Modesto Corps and Red Shield can provide swim lessons to more low-income kids, after receiving a $150,000 contribution over the next three years from an anonymous donor, as well as many individual donors. This will allow them to provide swim lessons to 100 kids, compared to the usual 12-15 kids, each summer.

These donations give local children opportunities for swimming lessons, which are not usually affordable for low-income families. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. Learning to swim is more than fun — it can be a lifesaver.

Last week, a 1-year-old Ceres boy drowned after falling into a pool.

For additional information, or to sponsor swim lessons, contact Maria Arellano at the Modesto Corps and Red Shield Center at 209-538-7111 or by e-mail at ...

The Stanislaus County Asthma Coalition convened its 12th annual symposium to provide updates about the advances in asthma care, across the age spectrum.

Management of adults was discussed by Dr. Joshua Jacobs, from Asthma and Allergy Clinical Research. Pediatric asthma updates were presented by Dr. Krista Holmblad, from Valley Children’s Healthcare.

Anna Song, doctorate researcher from the Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center at UC Merced, informed the audience about the increasing use of electronic smoking devices, especially among teens.

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Smoking and second-hand smoke are well-known triggers for asthma.

Asthma is a chronic lung condition, which makes it difficult for sufferers to breath. The lecturers noted that asthma rates are increasing among the Central Valley population, though the reasons are not well understood. Holmblad said that there appears to be a correlation with obesity, which also has increasing rates.

Counties in the San Joaquin Valley have some of the highest rates of asthma in the nation. The coalition was formed in 2002 and is comprised of 90 members, from 40 organizations and agencies representing medical professionals, public health professionals, government agencies, community-based organizations, and others.

Their mission is “To create an asthma‐friendly community by promoting awareness, education, management, and prevention.”

For additional information about the coalition, visit ...

The Senate Select committee on the Social Determinants of Children’s Well-Being chaired by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), discussed children’s health in the Central Valley at Fresno City Hall earlier this week.

In addition to Mitchell, Senators Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) and Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) and Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) and California Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly participated.

The public hearing focused on the healthcare workforce shortage, pollution, pesticide exposure, housing and persistent racial and ethnic inequalities in the Central Valley.

Local healthcare providers, child advocates, community leaders and the public joined the discussion.

“Today’s hearing brought together exactly this kind of powerful and necessary partnership, built on the shared belief that a successful future for our state requires the health, talents and contributions of all of our young people,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center, which manages the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, in a press release.

The bipartisan Senate Select Committee on the Social Determinants of Children’s Well-Being was formed in February 2019 and will be active through the two-year legislative session. The committee will study and make recommendations promoting the health of California’s children. Their recommendations will be posted at

To view the hearings, visit:

This story was produced with financial support from The Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Stanislaus Community Foundation, along with the GroundTruth Project’s Report for America initiative. The Modesto Bee maintains full editorial control of this work.

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