A Breath of Fresh Air

Karina, center, with her family at Best Start Compton’s Stroll in the Park event.


Ever since she was born, 5-year-old Karina has struggled to breathe.

Doctors gave her inhalers, but it was not enough. For a time, her family wondered if she would ever get the help she truly needed.

Then her family found help in the most unlikely place of all: a tiny park in Compton.

“We found an agency that helps children with asthma,” said Karina’s big sister, Kassandra Hernandez. “They are going to come to our house and tell us what she should eat and not eat, about the stuff that irritates her, and other things. I think it will help.”

That help came in the form of the resource fair entitled: “A Stroll In The Park, A Family Affair” sponsored by Best Start Compton-East Compton. The event hosted three dozen agencies and services, from the asthma organization to emergency housing, WIC to Medi-Cal. In all, more than 500 parents and children were drawn to the event.

Exercise was a theme of the Best Start event as well. Participants danced to Zumba, hula-hooped and followed the beat of the drums in a stroll around the park.

“It brings the community together,” said Romalis Taylor, chair of the Best Start Compton Leadership Group. “It focuses on issues we talk about in Best Start: that babies are born healthy, that children maintain a healthy weight, that children are safe from abuse and neglect and that children are ready for kindergarten.”

“The purpose of the Resource Fair was to increase participation of parents and residents in the Best Start Compton-East Compton partnership, provide access to local resources that address the needs of families with children of the ages 0 to 5, and highlight the local parks to promote family outings,” said First 5 LA Program Officer Alex Wade.

Best Start leadership group member Eddie Mae Williams enjoyed seeing the kids playing. But more importantly, she said, an event like this “gives the community an opportunity to know that Best Start is here.”

For the Hernandez family, that knowledge was like a breath of fresh air.

“There are so many resources here,” Kassandra said, putting her arms around her little sister, Karina. “It helps so much.”