Since transitioning to virtual wellness classes last year due to COVID-19 safety protocols, UT Physicians has welcomed its first Spanish-speaking graduates of Core Connections.
Core Connections is an eight-week program designed to empower participants to make positive lifestyle choices. Throughout the classes, attendees receive nutritious foods donated by the Houston Food Bank to promote mindful and healthful eating.
Classes were well attended before the pandemic. However, program leaders were concerned about a potential drop in participation due to the shift to online meetings. That concern quickly dissipated as the weeks went by. Eight dedicated individuals returned each time.
“The special part of Core Connections is the support system created among participants,” said Natalia Williams, MPH, community health education specialist at UT Physicians. “We were afraid to lose that when we switched to virtual, but this group especially showed that engagement and connections can be made even through a screen.”
Tomas Solorzano has been a patient of the UT Physicians Multispecialty – International District clinic for years and was excited to join the Core Connections program because it was hosted in Spanish.
“It helped me a lot that the class was in Spanish because I was able to follow Ms. Natalia’s curriculum in my native language,” he said.
In addition to learning about healthier eating habits, Solorzano graduated the class with more information on meal planning, generic medications, and exercises to reduce stress.
Angela Loredo is another Core Connections graduate and patient of UT Physicians Multispecialty – International District clinic. After being diagnosed with several chronic conditions that threatened her health, she decided it was time to takes things more seriously.
“I’ve changed the way that I eat,” said Loredo. “I use to drink soda, but now I don’t. During the program, our teacher showed us how much sugar was in each can of it, and I was shocked.”
Since the last class, Loredo happily reports that she feels great, her blood pressure has improved, and she’s lost a significant amount of weight.
Ivy Weng, program coordinator at UT Physicians, shared in Williams’ initial worries about the effectiveness of virtual classes. Now, with eight successful and happy graduates at the end of the program, they share a different emotion – happiness.
“I truly had a lot of fun with this group and am so proud of them,” said Weng. “I’m so happy to see participants benefit from Core Connections and have an improvement in their overall health.”