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April 27, 2014 at 12:59 PM

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In South King County, an extraordinary effort to bring better health


ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Burmese refugee Thian Mawy, 19, with her baby, Peter, at their Tukwila apartment, sometimes struggles with transportation to medical appointments. For many low-income families like Mawy’s, lack of transportation keeps them from getting health care. Global to Local, a coalition of groups working on health issues in South King County, has tried to help by organizing carpools and bus vouchers.

"Maps of how people die in King County tell a stark story of inequity. Life expectancy varies by as much as 12 years across the county. In the Tukwila/SeaTac area, the teen-pregnancy rate is almost three times as high as it is in the rest of the county; twice as many students are on free and reduced-price lunches; and people are 1½ times more likely to die of diabetes-related causes. Perhaps most shocking, 17 percent of kindergartners in Tukwila are homeless."

The Global to Local global-health alliance is trying to alleviate health inequality in South King County, particularly around chronic chronic diseases. For more on Global to Local's efforts, please read Abigail Higgins' story in this week's Pacific Northwest Magazine.


ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Children play outside an apartment complex in Tukwila, where safe places to play are not always accessible for folks without transportation.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Dentist Dr. John A. Johnson works with patients inside the Medical Teams International dental van outside of New Hope Health Center in Tukwila. The health center, based at Fellowship Bible Church, provides free primary medical care and counseling services. Pastor David Sobocinski, executive director of New Hope, says Global to Local has provided a framework for many local organizations to share information and refer people to services such as the dental van.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Dannia Garcia, of Burien, feeds her daughter, Valerie, during a Global to Local cooking class for the Latino community in SeaTac. Global to Local also provides diabetes and nutrition education, as well as culturally tailored exercise classes.

ERIKA SCHULTZ/ THE SEATTLE TIMES

Tony Tansey works at putting his daughter, Kylie, to bed in the basement of the Riverton Park United Methodist Church, where he has lived for about a year, trying to get ahead on bills. Despite having steady work, he says, “I’m just really stuck.”

ERIKA SCHULTZ/ THE SEATTLE TIMES

Tony Tansey snuggles with his 3-year-old daughter, Kylie, on the basement floor of Tukwila’s Riverton Park United Methodist Church. The single dad, a cabinetmaker, has lived at the church for about a year, trying to get ahead on bills. Homelessness, as well as lack of access to good food and health services, are some of the challenges facing low-income families in Tukwila, says the Rev. Jan Bolerjack, pastor at Riverton Park. The church has hosted some of Global to Local's Community Conversations and programs.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

It's a scene that every mother knows all too well: Monica Davalos tells her daughter, Arlette Ramirez, she'll have to wait for a healthy snack instead of grabbing a sugary treat at the grocery store. Her son, Abraham, gets a laugh out of it all while her father, Ernesto Davalos, stays out of it. Ernesto's diabetes diagnosis in January helped the family start to understand the importance of nutrition and exercise.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Maria Phillips and her daughter, Jazlyn Gaytan, greet Davalos at Foster High School for their weekly walking group. Davalos works as a Latino community liaison with Global to Local in Tukwila and SeaTac. She helps organize child care so mothers can attend exercise classes and cooking groups.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Rita Rai sits with her father, Suk Rai, as her cousin, Albina, plays in their Tukwila apartment. Suk is sick with a rare form of diabetes, and hasn't been able to work for months. Their family, which fled persecution in Bhutan, said the food they had in Nepalese refugee camps consisted of rice, beans and veggies. When they came to the U.S., they were soon exposed to food with lots of sugar, salt and oil.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Rita Rai, at front, and her cousins, Som and Albina Rai, walk to a relative's home. The older girls, who attend Foster High School, say they enjoy the diversity of their classmates and the opportunities in America. Rita says she is also thankful for access to health care, particularly through one of the HealthPoint clinics, where her father goes for appointments to tend to his diabetes.

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