City Heights Wellness Center

Promoting wellness in our diverse community

The City Heights Wellness Center – Health Advocacy Project is supported by a grant from the California Endowment Foundation. It’s designed to strengthen the capacity to deliver culturally- and religiously-competent health promotion services to Somali and East African women and their families. This program addresses unmet access to care needs, such as:

  • Prenatal outreach and education
  • Culturally-adapted nutrition and fitness education
  • Breastfeeding education
  • Early childhood health
  • Nutrition and safety classes

Creating hope for Somali immigrants, one meal at a time

San Diego is home to the second largest Somali community in the United States, and Scripps Health is addressing the need to provide support services for the estimated 25,000 Somali and other East Africans now settled in and around the community of City Heights.

Much of Scripps’ outreach with the East African community originates at the City Heights Wellness Center, a community-building partnership between Scripps Mercy Hospital and Rady Children’s Hospital. The 4,500-square-foot center serves many diverse groups. At the heart of the center is its “teaching kitchen,” a hub for East African community gatherings and classes.

Somali immigrant Sahra Abdi is the program coordinator for the Center’s Health Advocacy Project, which includes the City Heights Hope group. “In the City Heights Hope group, 80 women from the local community are learning to overcome barriers to a healthy lifestyle,” Sahra explains. “There is a dangerous trend among East African immigrants to America. We tend to develop Type II diabetes at younger ages and more quickly than the average American. In the kitchen, we do cooking demonstrations that teach immigrants how to shop for and prepare nutritious foods.”

The group also addresses digestive issues developing among East Africans as they increasingly adopt a modern, western diet move away from a traditional Halal diet, which restricts many high-fat animal foods and alcohol.

Classes included Behavioral Health, Chronic Disease Management-Diabetes, Healthy Lifestyle Education, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Lactation Programs, Maternal Child Health, Mental Health and Navigating the Health System.

“The most important work we do is to empower community residents to manage their own health,” says Sahra. The City Heights Well-Being Center will continue its collaborative work with other agencies in the future, preventing disease and promoting community health.