Mejorando La Calidad de Vida (Improving the Quality of Life)
A partnership between Radio Cadena, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic and Providence Health System
Migrant farm workers living in south-central Washington’s Yakima Valley are Spanish speakers who struggle to read and write. They depend on their community radio station, Radio Cadena, to connect them to educational and health services. Radio Cadena takes its name quite seriously—cadena means “chain” in Spanish—forging links among health care facilities, government agencies, farm workers and broadcasters. The three-time Sound Partners grantee positioned itself locally as an important link between health care providers and the Spanish-speaking community.
Access to Health Care in the Yakima Valley featured a weekly and biweekly 60-minute program and fifteen 30- and 60-second public service announcements. Radio Cadena has received many accolades for its Sound Partners efforts. It is a three-time recipient of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters Community Impact Award. In 2001, the station received the Providence Health System Community Health Award and the State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Award.
Radio Links Forge Community Partnerships
By Ricardo Garcia, Radio Cadena
Today the most pressing issues or our listeners are housing, employment opportunities, education and health. Over the years, our station has addressed these needs through a variety of programming activities, including radio dramas, interviews with the community’s social and educational leaders, and educational print materials like foto novelas, foto brochures and foto newsletters—pieces where photographs are used to explain an issue.
In 1998, our station entered into a working partnership with the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (YVFWC), an organization with a long and successful history of attending to the health needs of migrant farm workers. KDNA produced and aired a series of educational interviews about the effects of welfare reform on health care with support from YVFWC, including access to medical experts and information on low-cost health insurance plans. As we worked together, we realized that health care issues were connected to other issues—housing, legalization of immigrants and education.
I knew there were other organizations, agencies and social service providers directing community outreach at the same people we were trying to reach. By joining with them, we felt we could broaden the services we provided to listeners. We could become a more vital part of our community.
One of our most successful partnerships was with the state of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) around the availability of food stamps. There was great confusion in our community as to whether legalized immigrants were eligible to receive food stamps. National welfare reform laws excluded legal immigrants from receiving nutritional benefits, but the state of Washington decided otherwise. Unfortunately, most immigrants were too frightened of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to seek out assistance. And the word was not getting out to the immigrant community.
KDNA spearheaded a discussion between community leaders and DSHS officials on how we could work together on this issue. The solution we came up with was for DSHS to partner with us and begin a radio campaign to encourage the immigrant community to apply for food stamps. They also agreed to have a food stamp certifier come to the Radio KDNA studios once a week to help immigrants and other eligible Latinos apply for food stamps.
Our station continues to work as an active partner with local agencies and organizations that deal with health care access issues. We have joined in sponsoring a number of health fairs held throughout the Yakima Valley. During these fairs, our station distributes hundreds of audiocassettes produced by our staff. On one side of the tape, listeners find a variety of health care messages; on the other side is a collection of popular Latino songs. This type of educational outreach is very effective in our community.
We have continued our partnership with YVFWC, adding a second partner, the Providence Health Care System. Having two partners has allowed us to do more aggressive outreach. Both agencies use mobile health care vans to bring basic preventive care and screening services to farm workers who live in camps, on riverbanks and in isolated rural areas. As these vans toured our listening area, Radio KDNA promoted their scheduled stops. Our staff often joined the vans on the road to do a live broadcast—talking with clients, interviewing them about their health care concerns and airing their comments to educate others.
I have learned that community outreach, coupled with a base of
educational radio programming, can enhance the delivery of services to those in need. As we worked on these projects, word spread about our station’s willingness to develop partnerships to reach the communities of Spanish-speaking men, women, seniors, teenagers, business entrepreneurs and undocumented workers.
Our commitment to meeting the needs of our community has positioned Radio KDNA as an important link to the Spanish-speaking communities in Eastern Washington. Although many of our listeners are economically disadvantaged, lacking in formal education and isolated by language and culture, they are a growing part of our state. Census 2000 data revealed a 35 percent jump in the Spanish-speaking population in Yakima County, and indicators point to a continued rise over the next ten years.
These changing demographics challenge institutions concerned with housing, economic development, education and health care issues for all members of the community. In the midst of their action plans on how to reach these new constituents is Radio KDNA. We are not only included, but our expertise is sought after. Having played a key role in major outreach campaigns in our community, we are ready to continue our efforts, hitting the roads and airwaves for better education, housing and health care for everyone.
Originally Published in Local Voices: Listening For Solutions.
Contact Assistant Director Amelia Ramon, Radio Cadena KDNA-FM
Call 509-854-1900 during business hours (except 11am-1pm Pacific Time).
Contact Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinical Service Manager Mary O'Brien.
Read another article about this partnership, Champions of Community Radio.
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.