Live Well Waco Asset Map: The Road to a Healthier Lifestyle

by CeRon Ford

Cheeseburgers and French fries have you down in the gutter? Tired of paying for expensive salads at drive-thru restaurants? Do you want to work out but not sure where to go? No need to waste any more time searching for the most affordable salad or settling for just any gym– we have everything mapped out just for you!

Ever heard of the Live Well Waco (LWW) Asset Map? No? Well, you may want to pay close attention to this. Live Well Waco is a coalition dedicated to improving the health of people living, working and playing in McLennan County. The Live Well Waco Coalition began more than 5 years ago as a collaborative effort between community businesses, organizations, and individuals who are dedicated to the health of McLennan County residents.  LWW focuses on improving area health disparities by hosting events such as community cooking demonstrations, physical activity programs, and more. The Live Well Waco Leadership team created the asset map to promote a better understanding of diversity within the community while helping community members locate fresh produce and healthy foods, exercise facilities, healthcare facilities, and other local resources.

The asset map includes a list of locations that provide access to healthy living opportunities all within the City of Waco. With the LWW Asset Map, we want to help protect and conserve the local traditions, customs, and resources that are prevalent in Waco, Texas.

Maps can often be tricky, but the best way to learn is just to dive in!

Here’s the link:

And here are some tips for using it! :

Use the drop-down box located in the bottom left hand corner to select the category that you want to search. The 4 categories are type of space, quality, neighborhood, and amenities. To narrow down the locations shown in the map, you can select one group or multiple groups shown as the colorful circles to the right of the drop down box. For example, “Type of Space” would be the category, and “Store with Produce, Agency, and Public Space” would be considered groups. You can further target your search or search by other criteria by changing the category from the drop down box and selecting additional groups to the right of the box. As you select the groups, they appear in gray boxes, and if you want to delete a selection, just click the “X” on the left hand side of the gray box.

Here is what you will find within each category.

Type of Space:

  • Stores with produce- includes grocery and convenience stores
  • Agency- social service agencies
  • Public Space- free space for exercise such as parks
  • Gym- locations of gyms to engage in physical activity
  • Healthcare- locations to access health screenings or vaccinations
  • Recreational Facility- locations of community centers
  • Other- locations that do not fit into the previous categories such as libraries where access to a computer is available


  • Healthy Living- includes locations for accessing healthy lifestyles
  • Healthy Eating- includes locations with fresh produce or healthy food options
  • Active Living- includes locations that offer free or low cost opportunities to exercise

Neighborhood: If applicable, the locations are broken into which neighborhoods the assets are located. For example: Lacy Lakeview, Kendrick, Bellmead, University, Waco and Others.

Amenities: If available, different assets are listed such as locations where playgrounds are located. For example: Playgrounds, outside fields, Library, fresh produce, school w/ playground, Playgrounds and Others.

The colorful circles on the map represent the groups within the different categories you have selected, which is shown in the image below. Click on a circle inside the map to see detailed information about the location. To look at another location click the “X” on the right hand side of the box or simply click on another circle.

To view a list of all the locations shown on the map, first, make sure your cursor is not hovering over the map and then scroll down the page. Under the black square you will see the locations itemized in a list format. This list will change as you select specific categories and groups.  You can also use the scroll bar located on the right hand side of the page.

To zoom in and out of a specific area on the map: (1) Use the + and – signs located on the left hand side of the map (2) Click on the map in the area with the circles and use your mouse to scroll forward to zoom in or backwards to zoom out.

The Live Well Waco Asset Map is an awesome tool that helps providers and community residents identify assets and strengths around the community. Types of resources are clearly and easily categorized into stores with produce, local agencies, public spaces, gyms, healthcare facilities and recreational facilities across the great City of Waco, Texas. The LWW Asset Map can save you time and money as well as improve your quality of life, so let’s SHARE it! By promoting the LWW Asset Map tool within local clinics, doctor’s offices, local food banks, and through other local organizations, we can provide this asset map as a public service to the entire community so that patients, clients, and partners can support and encourage one another to make healthier lifestyle choices. The LWW Asset Map is already linked to the Live Well Waco website, but the opportunity to spread awareness of this great resource on other organizations’ and partners’ websites will go a long way.

The Asset Map tool not only provides a visual representation of local businesses and resources, but it also provides valuable information that will ultimately help all community residents lead a healthier lifestyle. The time to improve healthy eating and increase physical activity is NOW! Let the Live Well Waco Asset Map guide you to health and success! Although the journey is not easy, Live Well Waco Coalition challenges you to take the highway and merge into a healthier lifestyle!

CeRon Ford moved to Waco in August 2013 to attend Baylor University. He received his Bachelors of Science in Public Health, and had the opportunity to intern at the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District as a Live Well Waco intern during his final summer in Waco. CeRon will further his efforts of pursuing public health by attending Morehouse School of Medicine’s Master of Public Health Program in Atlanta, Georgia, In the Fall 2017.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Waco History: Sanger Avenue Elementary School

For many years, Sanger Avenue Elementary School stood as the most familiar landmark of the Sanger Heights neighborhood. Located in the “Silk Stocking District,” Sanger Avenue Elementary acquired a reputation as one of the premier educational institutions in the city.

A 1903 bond election resulted in the construction of three nearly identical schools. Sanger Avenue School, designed by renowned Waco architect Milton W. Scott, long outlasted its counterparts Bell’s Hill and Brook Avenue Elementary Schools. The two-storied building featured unique architecture and elaborate design, including ornate arches, a rotunda, an upstairs auditorium, and a high roof crowned by a cupola. The building’s heavily Romanesque style included arched windows and doors framed by limestone. Prominently featured turrets stood at the front of the original school building but were removed in a 1930 renovation.

Sanger Avenue School opened in 1904 with John H. Richardson as its first principal. Former students and teachers generally agree that the most influential figure in the history of Sanger Avenue was likely Nina Glass, the school’s second principal. Glass encouraged parents and students to take an active role in education, establishing a mimeographed newsletter for parents called the Ginger Jar and inviting students to save coupons to buy pictures for the school. She published a nationally used arithmetic textbook and frequently attended educational conferences. Well liked by both staff and students, Glass was often seen at the school’s annual May Fete festival, brightly garbed and leading students in a parade around the Maypole.

Glass’s enthusiasm reflected the general atmosphere at Sanger Avenue Elementary. Former students fondly remember dedicated teachers and classrooms ideally suited for learning. Large windows poured light into classrooms where each student’s cast-iron and wooden desk held an inkwell. A spacious and well-stocked library, established after Glass attended a Chicago educators’ conference, invited students to study and read.

The years following Glass’s retirement from Sanger Avenue brought great changes for the small elementary school. By the 1960s, over seven hundred students attended the school, and music classes and a choir were established. Yet the Waco Independent School District (WISD) announced plans for the school’s closure as a part of a busing plan to meet a federal desegregation order. By the 1970s, African American students made up approximately half of the school’s population. Despite the efforts of many to keep the school open, classes ceased at Sanger Avenue in 1974.

Although a portion of the school briefly housed a Head Start program, much of the building soon suffered from years of disuse. Disappointed at seeing such an important piece of Waco’s history sit vacant, Waco attorneys LaNelle and John McNamara purchased the school for $80,000 from WISD. The couple renovated the building, installing a new roof, boarding up broken windows, and removing asbestos. Yet despite their hopes of repurposing the building, perhaps as a charter school, the plans never came through. Another blow was dealt to the historic building when arsonists set fire to it in 2008.

The city of Waco deemed the building unsafe, and in 2010 bulldozers tore the remnants of the structure down, leaving only the entrance archway standing.  The school’s former location has been featured in the Waco Trib recently as a possible location for an indoor soccer field.

Cite this Page:

Karen Green and Cheryl Wiggington, “Sanger Avenue Elementary School,” Waco History, accessed July 19, 2017,

Waco History is a mobile app and web platform that places the past at your fingertips! It incorporates maps, text, images, video, and oral histories to provide individuals and groups a dynamic and place-based tool to navigate the diverse and rich history of Waco and McLennan County. It is brought to you by the Institute for Oral History and Texas Collection at Baylor University.  This post: Prisca Bird, “Lovers’ Leap,” Waco History, accessed June 21, 2017,

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Latino Mental Health Coalition to host “Mente Sana: Tools for the Church” Conference

By Bethie Timmons

The Latino Mental Health Coalition is a group of individuals who identified a need within the Latino faith community to address mental health issues occurring in the context of the church.  Many individuals go to their church leaders first when they are experiencing mental health concerns or family struggles and knowing how to serve people well in these difficult situations, beyond offering spiritual support, can be life-saving and life-changing.  Many individuals and families in the Latino culture do not talk about mental health due to fear of the stigma of being called “locos.”  There might be a lack of understanding of the signs or symptoms so feelings are dismissed.  Many in the Latino community have been taught that private “home” matters should not be taken outside the home.  Strong cultural traditions exist and it may be that someone in the family has sworn by the “jarabe the tia lupe” or VapoRub.  And although these might work for many illnesses, individuals need to be aware of the limitations.  Drinking tea for nerves to soothe oneself is good, but those nerves could be a sign of something more troubling.  In light of the current immigration focus of our nation many immigrants who might be here illegally and fear deportation may be hindered from being open about their health.  Also, many immigrants, whether legal or illegal, work independently or have low-wage jobs which affect their ability to get medical insurance.

Pastors are doing a great job in addressing spiritual concerns of their congregations but felt inadequately trained to handle mental health needs.  Their commitment to becoming informed about mental health issues including anxiety, depression, suicide prevention and substance abuse led them to reach out to Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and Dr. Dennis Myers to gather pastors and mental health professionals in the community to assist in addressing this very important issue in their churches.

Pastor Ruben Andrade of Family of Faith Worship Center has led the charge and has been instrumental in engaging pastors and their congregations.  Last year the coalition hosted a conference at the Garland School of Social Work titled “Mental Health:  Tools for the Church.”  We hosted approximately 75 people and included breakout sessions, information tables identifying community mental health agencies and a panel made up of local pastors who spoke about the need for mental health awareness in their congregations. Our keynote speaker talked to the attendees about being a survivor of a family member who completed suicide.  Her presentation was powerful.  Attendees agreed that the conference was a big success and decided that an annual offering would benefit the community.  One attendee who was very inspired by the information shared at the conference went on to become a Mental Health First Aid Certified Trainer and is now working with Latino churches in South Texas.

The conference opened up conversation about mental health issues and provided pastors and other church leaders the opportunity to speak openly about mental health and the challenges of addressing this issue in their churches.  It was agreed that there is a stigma associated with mental health and while pastors are very aware of the challenges persons with mental health issues encounter, they were not sure about how to best address concerns in the context of the church.  The conference also provided pastors and church leaders the opportunity to connect with local community mental health providers and their referral process for connecting one of their parishioners.

The success of the conference provided an impetus to continue this important work among the Latino community through the coalition. We have provided additional training in the churches around mental health first aid, suicide awareness and prevention and our local chapter of NAMI has presented support information for families who care for individuals with mental health issues. We also identified the need for Spanish speaking counselors and have developed a presentation to recruit Latino college students into the counseling profession.  AND on August 5, 2017 at Baylor University’s  Diana R. Garland School of Social Work the coalition will host the 2nd annual “Mente Sana: Tools for the Church.” We are excited to continue this important conversation with a panel, workshops and a keynote speaker. To register for the conference which is free of charge go to

Growing up in El Paso, TX, my family and I had the distinct pleasure of living on the border and within sight of Juarez, Mexico. We took many trips to Juarez especially when family from other parts of the country visited to experience the culture and traditions of our sister city.  The marketplace and the grocery store where you could buy the best hard rolls was always a hit. The other opportunity for me to experience the rich Latino culture was spending time with my best friend and her family. I made it a point to show up at her house at dinner time so that I could partake in a regular staple of their family meals, homemade tortillas!  There is nothing like a homemade tortilla and if you have never experienced one you are truly missing out.  What was unique about her family was their strong cultural identification that included numerous family celebrations and their honor to the matriarch in the family, her grandmother.  I remember the grandmother as being a tiny woman with a soft voice who could silence a room with her words.  She only spoke Spanish so I did not know exactly what she was saying but understood that it was important and that you had to listen. The love and support that existed within this large extended family was something to envy. This family stood by one another no matter what.  Their faith community was also an integral part of their living and Sundays in this family was an all-day affair.  When a family member experienced a problem the rest of the family gathered and provided assistance or called in the priest to provide direction.  However, in looking back I can see how major difficulties were handled in isolation because one simply did not take problems outside of the family. It is through the coalition that we hope equip pastors and church leaders to encourage families to reach outside for help when needed.

Elizabeth (Bethie) Timmons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Director of Clinical Services at HOTRMHMR. She has lived in Waco for 32 years and has been involved in a variety of capacities with the children and families of McLennan County, providing therapy and support.  Her specialty includes trauma and mental health issues.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.