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Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center Hosts Move and Groove Event

Team members from the Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center welcome a child to the "Move and Groove" wellness event on May 18, 2024. Photo by Heluna Health.
Team members from the Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center welcome a child to the "Move and Groove" wellness event on May 18, 2024. Photo by Heluna Health.

LOS ANGELES—The Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center hosted a “Move and Groove” wellness event at the East Los Angeles Civic Center on Saturday. The event, which focused on bringing together people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, along with their parents, caregivers, neighbors and friends, featured healthy cooking demonstrations, live performances and family-friendly fitness activities, along with information about community wellness resources.

Yvette Baptiste, PhD, Executive Director of the Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center, said that as the daughter of someone with a disability, helping members of the community to access resources has always been important to her.

“People with disabilities and their families sometimes struggle with having social and recreational options that lower the incidence of behavioral episodes or depression and sadness,” Baptiste said. “What we want to do is to let them know that exercise is right here in their community, and to show them some opportunities that exist that they didn’t know about, some things that they can do to really battle those challenges that they might have with their mental health.”

During the event, families participated in Tai-Chi classes led by Kenneth Edwards, a martial arts instructor widely known for his role in the 1995 film “Mortal Kombat.” Participants also tried their hand at performing hula hoop dance routines with the guidance of a professional hula hoop artist, participated in group exercises with a professional trainer, and enjoyed performances by a mariachi band and folklórico dancers. DJing the event was Andre Robinson, aka DJ Deaf Tunez, who runs a mobile comedy and entertainment business and lives with hearing loss.

Representatives from PHFE WIC, a program of Heluna Health, provided healthy eating classes and cooking demonstrations featuring WIC-approved foods. PHFE WIC is the nation’s largest WIC program.

The master of ceremonies for the event was Darlene Rodrigo, a radio producer, podcast host and special needs advocate. Rodrigo said the event was “a dream come true” for families like hers who have a loved one with special needs.

“This proves that this is necessary in our lives,” Rodrigo said. She also highlighted the importance of the event happening during May, which is mental health awareness month.

“Nature’s medicine is moving,” she said.

The Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center (ELAFRC) is a program of Heluna Health. They are the Early Start and Family Empowerment Center for the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center service area. They offer emotional support, information, community navigation and training to families and individuals with or at risk of developmental and intellectual disabilities of all ages. They support families to understand and access the educational system for their child through workshops and support events. They also support professionals to engage and understand families in the developmental disabilities system by providing opportunities for family/professional collaboration and learning opportunities.

For more than 50 years, Heluna Health has collaborated with nonprofit and community-based organizations, public health agencies, healthcare systems, providers, and policymakers to enhance health interventions and ensure equitable access to disease prevention, treatment, care, and social resources. Heluna Health is at the forefront of efforts to eliminate health disparities among vulnerable populations, dedicating itself to culturally congruent, community-led interventions aimed at systemic change and improved health outcomes across all communities they serve.