Working On Wellness is the original name of the Coalition established in Starr County in 2011 in order to facilitate implementation of the Texas Transformation Grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control. From its inception the W.O.W. coalition included members and partners from the whole County (La Grulla, Rio Grande City, Roma and San Isidro). The three main focus areas are to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, to promote physical activity and to support policies and initiatives encouraging tobacco-free living.
The original CDC grant in Starr County ended in 2014 but the program received further direct funding from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in order to build on the significant progress achieved in the first three years as well as to guarantee the long term effects and sustainability of the environmental changes reached in the area of public health. Among the most tangible results of the program is the establishment of a successful school and community gardening program that allows the participants to acquire the basic gardening skills for backyard fruit and vegetable production. The gardening component revolves around a network of 2 community gardens, 5 school gardens, two greenhouses for seedling production, a local seed bank and the establishment of a Horticulture Division in partnership with Starr County Fair Association. As an additional resource the W.O.W. Coalition was provided with a mobile farmer’s market trailer that is being used in partnership with local growers to sell fresh produce and which also serves as a marketing tool for the program.
In the area of fitness and physical activity the most important contributions consist of development and installation of two public walking trails (Rio Grande City, San Isidro) and restoration of an existing one (Garceno) as well as installation of mileage markers around the South Texas College campus.
Another important aspect of WOW in Starr County is the synergy with other related programs with shared focus and audiences (GNHC, LGEG and BLT).