July 22, 2013

Take Back Our Parks in Dove Springs

Dove Springs Advisory Board (left to right): Gabe Padilla, Liz Garcia, Mona Gonzales, Raymond Young, Ola Young, Phyllis Mendoza, Kris Beasley, George Morales

Having good parks in 78744: 

  • Improves general quality of life in our community
  • Creates sense of pride and ownership among our residents
  • Helps prevent crime and other dangerous behavior
  • Provides gathering places that help build community
  • Offers a space for physical exercise and activities

What is YOUR park pledge? 

  • Go to the park 2-3 times a week (walk or bike to the park, instead of driving!) 
  • Once a week, do a family day at the park
  • Search for a free activity: www.AustinTexas.gov/department/parks-and-recreation (or call 512-974-6700) 
  • Get involved to see what you can do to improve our parks! 

Pick one (or more) pledges and let us know! 
  1. Post a comment on our blog: DoveSpringsHealthNet.blogspot.com 
  2. Post a comment to our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ManantialDeSaludATX
  3. Send us an email: manantialdesaluddovesprings@gmail.com

July 15, 2013

Park Stories from the Community

We can participate by getting involved through the Dove Springs Recreation Center, working with our City of Austin Park Rangers, and collaborating with community groups such as Manantial de Salud and GO! Austin / VAMOS! Austin (GAVA).

Cleaning up Dove Springs District Park
Maria Ester Aguirre: Cleaning Up

Maria Ester, her husband and three children have been living in Dove Springs for six years. They go to the Dove Springs District Park 3-4 times a week, where they play soccer, take karate classes, go swimming, or go for hikes on the trails and enjoy the creek and the panoramic views of the golf course.

When Maria Ester learned from a friend that the park had seen better days, she was determined to help get it restored to its original beauty – she and her family have always been attracted to the rustic forests of this park. She worked with the Austin Park Rangers to clean up the area, an experience that was not only fun for her children, but also taught them to take care of the environment around them. “We don’t have to leave Dove Springs in order to have fun,” she says. “Everything we need is right here.”

Getting a new playground at Onion Creek District Park
Sara Torres: Safe and Family Friendly

Sara had been involved with the Onion Creek Plantation Neighborhood Watch – their neighborhood borders the Onion Creek District Park – when they were asked by GAVA and APD to include the park as part of their surveillance. Many of the homes near the park had been torn down because of the flood plain; and because of the empty streets there was a lot of crime. Sara and her team initially focused on safety and repairs.

After fixing the lighting and the locks on the bathrooms, and doing some general clean up, they decided to take it a step further and work to create a positive, family-friendly environment. The current playscape was falling apart, so they organized a telephone campaign. As a result, Austin Parks & Recreation is set to install a new playscape by early August 2013!

July 8, 2013

Advice from the Experts on Parks

Park Ranger Nick Hirsch: Helping our Residents

Nick has been the Education Coordinator with the Austin Park Rangers for several years. They offer a variety of programs for anyone in the community: fishing, hiking in the nature preserves, cave explorations, wildlife presentations, rock climbing, and guided kayaking.

“The goal of all of our programs is to enable families and their children to spend time together, explore and appreciate nature, be outdoors, and have fun,” says Hirsch. To learn more about free activities, and for a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/ParkRangers or call 512-978-2600.

Chief Deputy Constable George Morales: Protecting our Neighborhoods

“Parks offer a great opportunity for walking – they give us a chance to be able to stay physically fit. We have walking trails in many of our parks! Playgrounds are also important, and it’s good to get kids started early. When children can go into a playscape and do physical activity, it keeps them mobile, healthy, and fit.

If you’re involved with your children at school, you should be involved in the parks. It’s something you can be doing together as a family, whether you’re throwing a ball, building castles, or pushing them on a swing.”
George Morales is on the Dove Springs Advisory Board.

Dove Springs community health worker, Frances Acuna, with City of Austin Park Rangers!

July 1, 2013

Community Parks in Dove Springs

Dove Springs District Park
Several community-based leaders and organizations want to create a healthier and safer living environment for our families, friends, neighbors, and our fellow residents of Dove Springs!

Below are the various parks available in our constantly improving community. Do you want to help make them even better? Call Jill Ramirez at 512-484-1507.
  • DOVE SPRINGS DISTRICT PARK: Includes adjoining Roy Kizer Golf Course and Jimmy Clay Golf Course – 5801 Ainez Road (~72 acres) 
  • FRANKLIN NEIGHBORHOOD PARK – 4800 Copperbend Blvd. (~5 acres) 
  • KENDRA PAGE NEIGHBORHOOD PARK – 2203 Blue Meadow Dr. (~15 acres)
  • HOUSTON PARK – 4800 Copperbend Blvd. (~5 acres) 
  • ONION CREEK PARK – 7001 Onion Creek Dr. (~180 acres) 
  • PONCIANA NEIGHBORHOOD PARK – 5200 Freidrich Lane (~5 acres)


Franklin Neighborhood Park
Pastor Edward Craig and Brenda Craig of the Great Commission Baptist Church in Dove Springs organized a team, consisting of Lupe and Merita Williams, and others from the congregation, to adopt nearby Franklin Park in March of 2013. Being part of the church also means being part of the community, so they have been working to improve the park, with a focus on better security and lighting.

They’ve also been working on engaging neighborhood residents to create neighborhood watch teams and become involved. “Residents play a big role in safety because there are more of us that live in the neighborhood than there are police,” says Mrs. Craig. “It’s a challenging journey, but all good things take time.”

Neighborhood team working together!

May 27, 2013

Announcing the Dove Springs Neighborhood Farm Stand

Who: Urban Roots and Sustainable Food Center
What: Dove Springs Neighborhood Farm Stand, featuring a Double Dollar Incentive Program
When: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. every Wednesday, June 5 through July 17
Where: Dove Springs Rec Center

This summer, the Sustainable Food Center is partnering with Urban Roots and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department – all whom are supporters of GO! Austin / VAMOS! Austin (GAVA) in Dove Springs – to host a Neighborhood Farm Stand in Dove Springs. The Neighborhood Farm Stand will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00p.m. every Wednesday beginning June 5 through July 17 at the Dove Springs Recreation Center, 5801 Ainez Dr, 78744. The Neighborhood Farm Stand will feature fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables from the Urban Roots farm and other local farmers.

This Farm Stand will help make healthy food choices more accessible and also make healthy fruits and vegetables more affordable by doubling the value of SNAP (food stamp) benefits and Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (for WIC eligible families) vouchers. The Farm Stand is being launched as part of GAVA’s efforts to provide greater access to nutritious food while strengthening the food system in the Dove Springs community.

Families in and around the Dove Springs community can take advantage of the Double Dollar Incentive Program (Double DIP) by simply using their SNAP benefits to make purchases at the market – that means $1 can buy $2 worth of healthy, local fruits and veggies! Families eligible for WIC benefits can also pick up a $20 packet of Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers at the farm stand and receive an extra $20 in Double DIP. SFC and Urban Roots staff will be on site to help customers with SNAP, FMNP, and Double DIP.

The Neighborhood Farm Stand will serve as a source of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and will also provide a means of connecting with more residents. Shoppers at the Farm Stand can learn how to get involved with other aspects of the GAVA initiative, such as community gardening, other farmers’ markets, and healthier food in retail stores. Information about activities and programs offered by the Dove Springs Recreation Center will also be available.

About GAVA
GAVA is a coalition of residents, community leaders and nonprofits that share a common interest in improving the health of the Dove Springs community through increased access to and participation in physical activity and improved nutrition. GAVA supporters have agreed to align their resources and expertise for greater positive impact, especially as it relates to the health of Dove Springs-area children.

May 22, 2013

Words from the Food and Health Experts

“Making a few changes to how we eat can be simple, affordable, and convenient, and it’s a step towards improving our quality of life...and even saving a life! There are many free resources in our community, and neighborhood health improvement projects you can can participate in such as Go! Austin / Vamos! Austin.”

Andrew Smiley, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Food Center, has over 20 years experience working in sustainable agriculture and food systems, including on-farm production, agricultural marketing, micro-enterprise development, food journalism, farmer training and even food-service management.

“Shopping at a farmers market is a great way to be involved in your community and to know where and how your food is grown. Once you taste the difference of freshly picked fruits and vegetables, you’ll be hooked. There are also programs to help make it more affordable, such as WIC and SNAP.”

Growing up in a Mexican household and originally from South Texas, Claudia Harding (left) earned her Masters of Public Administration in San Antonio. During this time she read Jane Goodall’s Harvest for Hope and learned about the food we produce and consume. She is the Outreach Coordinator for the SFC Farmers’ Market East.

“For people trying to get to a healthier weight, good nutrition is super important! Because eating food with lots of calories is so tempting, it’s very hard to get to a healthy weight with physical activity alone. Good nutrition is even more important for our kids, as we want them to build strong bones and healthy brains! As Hippocrates, father of medicine said: Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.”

Dr. Stephen Pont is a physician at the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas (Seton Family of Hospitals) and is medical director for AISD’s Student Health Services.

Watch the video!

May 20, 2013

Living Simply and Naturally

Josefina is married with eight children, ranging from 11 to 35 years old, but she and her family are all in great health. She is very active on her mini-farm in Dove Springs where she tends a vegetable garden, chicken, and sheep. What’s the secret to her youthful look and energy? It’s the way she eats! She used to have health issues, but since changing the way she eats, she feels healthy and no longer takes medications.

Josefina feels organic food is healthier because the vegetables are grown without pesticides and the meat raised without hormones and pesticides. Her family hasn’t been sick in over 10 years. “We may be spending more on food, but we save money by not going to to the doctor often,” says Josefina. “You can’t put a price tag on having good health.”

Watch the video!

May 15, 2013

Learning How to Grow and Eat Veggies

The De la Cruz family has been living in Dove Springs for 15 years. When they first learned about the Urban Organics community garden, they were excited. “We thought it opened new doors to learning how to grow food and learning how to eat healthy,” says Jessica (left, next to her mom).

“Having the kids plant their own vegetables was a good way for getting them – and us – to try new vegetables!” she adds. Being part of a community garden is a way for them to access fresh, organic veggies for free. It’s also helped them become more physically active and spend time together as a family – kids, parents and grandparents!

Watch the video!

May 13, 2013

Passing Down Healthy Traditions

Manfredo (from rural Bolivia), and his wife Karin (who grew up on a homestead farm in Michigan), along with their two children, have been living in Dove Springs for just a few years. They are growing a backyard vegetable garden with green beans, lettuce, corn, strawberries and cooking herbs.

“With the money you spend on fast food, you can buy the basics at the supermarket,” says Manfredo. “I am showing my kids the flavors of my home country. They like all kinds of vegetables, and they’re starting to help us cook meals. To make a positive change in our community, we need to set a good example for our children.”

Watch the videos!

May 8, 2013

More info on eating healthy...coming soon!

Stay tuned...we'll soon have lots more information about how to eat healthy in a fun and affordable way. We'll be showing video-stories featuring residents from our own Dove Springs community - they'll share their ideas and experiences with you.

You can stay updated on our news and blog posts, as well as receive tips and inspirations, by "liking" our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ManantialDeSaludATX

In the meantime, enjoy this brief tour of the Eguez Hopkins Family's backyard vegetable garden:

What is YOUR healthy eating promise? 

  • I pledge to grow 2-3 kinds of veggies at home or a community garden. 
  • I pledge to shop at a farmers market 3-4 times a month.
  • I pledge to stop buying processed food (chips, cookies, sodas) and to buy more fresh produce, meats, and dairy at the grocery store.
  • I pledge to cook for my family at home at least 4-5 times a week. 
Pick one or more pledges and let us know!
  1. Post a comment on our blog: DoveSpringsHealthNet.blogspot.com 
  2. Post a comment to our page: www.facebook.com/ManantialDeSaludATX
  3. Send us an email: manantialdesaluddovesprings@gmail.com

May 6, 2013

Eating Healthy

Eating healthy foods is the best medicine to prevent chronic disease in your family.

The rising rate of obesity in Dove Springs is currently threatening our lives, especially our children’s, and it’s leading to a growing incidence of diet-related chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts as one of the most important things we can do to be healthy, reverse the obesity trend, and fight diet-related disease.

Ways You and Your Family Can Eat Healthy

Here are some easy and inexpensive ideas on how you and your family can eat healthy while saving time, knowing where your food comes from, getting more than your money’s worth in terms of quality...and even soaking in plenty of sun, fresh air and doing exercise while you’re at it!


It’s hard to beat the convenience of plucking a sweet juicy tomato, picking crisp green lettuce leaves, or cutting a spicy pepper right from your own back yard! Get FREE seeds, compost, and gardening supplies, and FREE Basic Organic Gardening classes, from Sustainable Food Center’s Grow Local program. 512-236-0074 www.sustainablefoodcenter.org/grow-local

Community gardens such as Urban Organics (5015 Maufrais) or River City Youth Foundation (5209 S. Pleasant Valley) also provide spaces for growing healthy food – learn gardening tips while making new friends in your neighborhood and spending quality time outdoors with your family!


Shop for your food AND take your family on a fun outing at the same time! The better quality of the freshly harvested, naturally grown foods by local farmers can mean more nutrients to help you and your family be healthy. The vegetables also last longer so you save money by not wasting food.

  • HOPE Farmers Market (5th & Comal), Sun. 11 am - 3 pm; accepts SNAP & WIC (512-553-1832 / www.hopefarmersmarket.org)
  • Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers Market East (MLK & Airport) Tues. 3 - 7 pm, and Sunset Valley Sat. 9 am - 1 pm; accept SNAP & WIC and will double your dollars up to $20! (512-236-0074 / www.sfcfarmersmarket.org)
  • Look for the Dove Springs Neighborhood Farm Stand opening this June! (512-750-8019 / www.urbanrootsatx.org)


Skip the chips, cookies and soda, and let your kids pick out a fresh veggie or fruit in the produce section. Choose produce that’s in season; it’s usually the least expensive! Avoid packaged and processed food. Choose whole grains and brown rice, organic milk, and leaner meats. Look for coupons & specials! Many families who cook at home also set aside a little time to slice or chop fruits and vegetables to keep in the fridge for convenient meals and snacks during the week. Learn how to use fresh ingredients to cook easy, fast and healthy meals: www.sustainablefoodcenter.org/happy-kitchen

March 5, 2013

What's Your Medical Home Pledge?

Choose one or more of the following:

  • I promise to find a primary health-care provider. 
  • I promise to get an annual physical check-up. 
  • I promise to ask my provider questions if I don’t understand. 
  • I promise to take my medications and follow instructions. 

Let us know one of the following ways... 
  1. Post a comment on our blog
  2. Post a comment to our page: facebook.com/ManantialDeSaludATX 
  3. Send us an email: manantialdesaluddovesprings@gmail.com

Be sure to catch up on our blog posts about medical home, including facts, resources, and interviews with residence of the Dove Springs community:

A Medical Home Helps You Prevent Illness and Live Healthier

Words from the Experts on Medical Homes

Finding a Medical Home When You Don't Have Insurance

Dealing with Diabetes and Finding a Medical Home

February 26, 2013

Words from the Experts on Medical Homes

“Recent studies have found a link between diabetes and depression. This doesn’t mean that if you have diabetes, you also have depression,” says Ms. Vah. ”But it’s important to understand that after a diagnostic test confirming that you or a family member have diabetes, there will be many changes in your life.

Managing diabetes can be stressful: you have to learn about the disease, control your glucose level, and constantly monitor what you eat at home and when you’re out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, restless, resentful, have trouble sleeping, or you don’t have energy to do what you enjoy, your primary healthcare provider can help!”

Elizabeth Vah, LMSW, Behavioral Health Consultant, Austin Travis County Integral Care. Vah collaborates with CommUnity Care at William Cannon and ATCIC, where she helps patients discuss anxiety, depression and problems related to family crisis.

“In Austin, 40% of Hispanics suffer from the terrible disesase diabetes, compared to 20% of the general population.” says Dr. Stephen Pont. “It’s clear that obesity has become an epidemic in our city, particularly in our Hispanic communities.

Visiting your primary health-care provider regularly will help you develop healthy eating and exercise habits. It will also help you catch early signs of diabetes, so you can prevent this disease from taking over your life.”

Dr. Stephen Pont is a physician at the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas (Seton Family of Hospitals) and is medical director for AISD’s Student Health Services.

February 19, 2013

Finding a Medical Home When You Don't Have Insurance

Ingrid hadn’t been to a doctor in 10 years, and Saíd hadn’t been in 13 years – because neither of them had health insurance and didn’t know their options. Ingrid wound up at the hospital due to inflammation of the heart.

Ingrid finally learned about her options at a presentation given at her son’s school. She received a phone number to call and apply for medical assistance. When Ingrid went to the doctor, she discovered she had three serious health problems that could have been prevented.

When Saíd went to see the doctor, they recommended that he do tests for cholesterol and diabetes. Now he and his wife are taking the proper precautions to catch signs the signs early and prevent further illnesses. Ingrid says, “My goal is to follow my doctor’s plans and recommenda- tions, eat healthy, and participate with my kids in getting exercise.”

Watch their videos (in Spanish with English subtitles)!

February 12, 2013

Dealing with Diabetes and Finding a Medical Home

“I have been diabetic for 10 years. It’s taken me a long time to understand the seriousness of my disease, because of lack of access to a medical home. I decided to get help because I was sleep- ing all the time, I had no energy, and I couldn’t get out of bed...I was just sick and very weak. But I didn’t understand why.  
Now I’m a patient at a clinic that provides a holistic approach to health. There’s a nutritionist who explains how important it is to understand the foods I eat and cook for my family. It’s important to understand why I’m taking the medication and what it does for me. And they also help me understand the physical part: getting enough exercise.”
—Ofelia in Dove Springs

Watch the video!

February 5, 2013

A Medical Home Helps You Prevent Illness and Live Healthier

“People feel a sense of security by being cared for by the same doctor. They feel that the doctor has more control of their health treatment. It’s also easy for the whole family to be seen by the doctor in the same appointment. That saves time and money.” 

— Maria Isabel, Community Health Worker and Patient at CommUnityCare 

What does it mean to have medical home? It means having a good relationship between you and your family, and your primary health-care provider — the medical expert you go to see not just when you are sick, but the person you also visit for regular check-ups and physical exams, who can teach you habits and tips for having a healthy lifestyle.

When you develop a trusting relationship with your health-care provider, you can work together to prevent chronic disease and illness such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and respiratory problems.

A medical home provides primary care that includes:
  • Preventive care (to keep you from getting sick) 
  • Acute care (in case you get sick) 
  • Coordination of that care with your health in mind 
  • Active network with specialists and other providers

A medical home is rewarding for health-care providers because they can offer consistent, continuous, compassionate, culturally effective, and complete quality care to their patients. Also, patients and their families can rest assured their needs will be met by someone they know and trust. It’s about preventing illness and disease and staying healthy!

Resources in the Dove Springs area of Austin, Texas:

CommUnityCare William Cannon Family Practice and Walk-In Care
6801 IH35 South, Austin, TX 78744
Phone: (512) 978-9960

Medical Access Program (MAP)
Phone: (512) 978-8130

Texas Medicaid
Phone: (855) 827-3747

CHIP / Children’s Medicaid
Phone: (877) 543-7669

January 31, 2013

What's YOUR Smoking Story?

We want to hear from you! 

  • I will never start smoking.
  • I smoke, but I’ve made up my mind to quit.
  • I have quit smoking, and I will never smoke again.
  • I am encouraging someone I love to stop smoking. 

Let us know one of the three following ways...

  1. Post a comment on our blog (at the bottom of this post) 
  2. Post a comment to our page: facebook.com/ManantialDeSaludATX
  3. Send us an email to manantialdesaluddovesprings@gmail.com

January 24, 2013

Dr. Stephen Talks About Dangers of Smoking

“If your child has fragile lungs, asthma, or any breathing problems, smoking makes it worse,” says Dr. Stephen Pont.

“Some kids who have never had asthma can have an attack if they’re exposed to smoke -- whether it’s inside the house, inside the car, or even outside. If you smoke less than 5 cigarettes per day or go more than half an hour in the morning before your first cigarette, these are great signs you’re not yet addicted...a great time to quit!”

Dr. Stephen Pont is a physician at the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas (Seton Family of Hospitals) and is medical director for AISD’s Student Health Services.

January 17, 2013

Smoking Ban on Austin Patios

Smokers in Austin could soon have fewer places to light up. 
Austin’s 8-year-old ban on smoking inside bars, restaurants and live music venues might be expanded to include outdoor patios and decks at those businesses. 
Live Tobacco-Free Austin Advocacy Group, a private organization, is pushing for the change, saying studies show secondhand smoke can be just as harmful outside as indoors. 
The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department supports the idea, as does a city commission, the Early Childhood Council. The Austin City Council would have to make it law, but it’s not clear whether the council wants to.
Jennifer Conroy, head of the tobacco-free group, said about 80U.S. cities and counties have adopted smoking bans for bar and restaurant patios. Smoking “is the number one preventable killer in this country. 
Everyone thinks if you just move outside or stand a few feet away you will be fine, but the effects are still there,” said Conroy, a public health consultant who said her advocacy group has more than 250 members. “You wouldn’t let your kid handle benzene or arsenic, so why would you let them hang out on a patio where those chemicals are going into their lungs?”
Read the rest of the article in the Austin American-Statesman.

If approved, the new smoking ban would take effect on April 7, 2013.

What do YOU think about smoking in patios and restaurants? Have you, or your children, ever been bothered by the second-hand smoke? Do you agree with this proposed ban? Let us know in the comments sections below!

January 10, 2013

Tips from Former Smokers

It’s not easy being a single parent, and for Jessica, it’s especially challenging. Not only is she a student, a bank employee, and a handball player who competes nationally, this 28-year-old also is the mother of a child with severe asthma.

Jessica’s son, Aden, was 3 years old when he was diagnosed with asthma. Although Jessica never smoked, many of Aden’s attacks were triggered by exposure to secondhand smoke. Jessica’s mother, who watched Aden during the day while Jessica was at work, was a smoker. Unfortunately, Jessica didn’t know the connection between secondhand smoke exposure and asthma.

Read more about secondhand smoke on the CDC website.