Valley Children's launches new program to transform kids' lives

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley Children's Hospital is launching a new program to improve the health and wellness of kids in the Central Valley.

The Guilds of Valley Children's Healthcare announced a $5 million endowment dedicated to transforming the health and well-being of children in the Valley.

The Guilds Center for Community Health said their work will focus mainly on the health challenges children face outside of these walls.

Dr. Carmela Sosa will oversee this new venture.

"This is really transformational in the lives of our children because we are going to touch many lives all at once and really change the trajectory of the past of their lives positively from the ground up," she said.

She added that they will have a mix of different partnerships out in the community.

"Working on education, working on clean water, food, access to healthcare, access to mental health, education and again, just working together with those in our community to raise children," she explained.

Todd Suntrapak with Valley Children's said some of their work is already visible. For example, at Vallarta Supermarkets, kids can pick out a free piece of fresh fruit.

"Teaching kids how to make healthy food choices so that they grow up knowing healthy food choices... that is a small example," he said.

Through some of their other initial pilots programs, the center has screened around 1,400 children for food insecurity as well as expanded 'George's Pass' to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to help children with autism spectrum disorder and sensory issues enjoy this community resource.

Jim Yovino, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, explained the center's work could be life-changing for his students and their ability to learn.

"We want every kid graduating from high school. We want every kid to be in a high-quality effective Pre-K program, but at the end of the day, if children aren't healthy, and we don't have healthy moms, our outcomes are going to be limited," Yovino said.

Derek Carr also showed his support for the new center.

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A building for the center is expected to be constructed soon on the Valley Children's campus.
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