21 Apr Community Partnership for Health Equity (CPHE) Site Updates
Maria Eugenia Romero-Garcia, founder of Maravillas De La Infancia Cultivador De Sueños Comunidad, located in Matanzas, Cuba, visited South Bronx, NY, last fall. As part of MEDICC’s support for the Bronx CPHE project “Building Capacity that Supports Change,” Maria Eugenia served as a consultant to this leadership program, leading discussions and workshops at Claremont Village and Bronx Lebanon Hospital on community engagement strategies that take place in Cuba (For more information about this community, feel free to view our new CPHE Bronx Video!).
Overall, Bronx CPHE members have been inspired by Cuba’s strong community leadership and participation in helping neighborhood residents access health information and health care. CPHE is focused on increasing resident knowledge of resources available to them as well as generating interest in participating in utilization of open spaces.
Linda Kemp continues to expand her violence prevention work with her “Bringing the Peace” partnerships with several New York Police Department Precincts, Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Claremont Neighborhood Center, and State policy makers. Her activities include sports, street closures, beautification of parks, and Summer Youth Employment Program workshops with Claremont Village youth.
Ms. Barbara Holmes works with tenant residents, facilitates breakfast/lunch summer programs, creates Summer Youth Employment activities, and now hosts the Vocational Instruction Program (VIP) in her community room 3 days each week. VIP provides health screenings, referrals for housing and vocational training.
Ms. Gwendolyn Primus has been working to expand the Food Pantry. She utilizes her community room and is currently working to provide space for health related workshops and to the tenants of her developments and has submitted a proposal to the NYC Mayor’s Office to implement additional programs. Also, she has started implementing the practice of weekly lobby meetings along with Ms. Holmes (Morris Houses I & II) and Mr. Norton (Butler Houses).
Javier Martinez, CPHE member and New Mexico State Representative (D-Albuquerque), was one of the key champions of a crucial proposal to invest in Early Childhood Education in New Mexico, which passed in the House of Representatives but was defeated on March 17 in the New Mexico Senate. This act proposed a constitutional amendment that would take an extra 1 percent of interest earnings from New Mexico’s $20 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to help pay for early childhood education. Rep. Martinez noted that New Mexico ranks as one of the worst states for child poverty. “Spending more on early childhood education would be an important step in changing this,” he said.
Another initiative in Albuquerque is FACES for the Future. Founded in Oakland, CA, in 2000 by Tomas Magana (CPHE Oakland), FACES for the Future is a pipeline to health professions program for at risk youth. The program has expanded to 8 additional locations since its inception. Magana affirms that FACES in Albuquerque was made possible through his meeting Albuquerque CPHE participants at the 2015 CPHE Network meeting, demonstrating yet another example of the power of building connections across CPHE’s.
MEDICC’s CPHE program in Milwaukee has focused on the Walnut Way community. For the past 3 years, Walnut Way’s Peace Project has been designed to allow the participating men of the Walnut Way neighborhood to build an environment of support among their families and their community.
The Walnut Way neighborhood took another devastating hit from violence entering the summer of 2016, when nine year old Za’layia Jenkins was shot and killed during a shootout between two groups of armed individuals. Seeing the trends of violence continue, participants have taken an even larger role supporting the planning and facilitation of this year’s iteration of the Peace Project.
Walnut Way has another important youth program, Growing Youth Leadership, which is its signature summer teen internship program that engages Lindsay Heights teens in intensive urban agriculture education, leadership development, and job training. Teens participate in weekly learning labs and community service projects. They grow a wide range of chemical-free vegetables and fruits in production gardens in the neighborhood and sell their harvest at local farmer’s markets. Learn more about the different programs here.
CPHE Navajo Nation
After two trips to Cuba, the Red Mesa and surrounding communities in the Navajo Nation were struck with similarities between Cuban and Navajo approaches to community health. Like the family doctor-nurse team in Cuban consultorios, Navajo Community Health Representatives (CHRs) know their neighbors well. Access to health facilities is difficult in the rural Four Corners region of Navajo Nation, and CHR home visits routinely include monitoring patients with chronic diseases, providing health education, addressing family and social problems, or arranging to have more firewood delivered for the winter.
In Cuba, the Navajo group was impressed by the ways community centers and schools wove the concept of health into cultural activities, history, and art. In Navajo Nation, with higher numbers of youth moving away or not finishing school, broken families and lack of social cohesion have long been recognized as challenges. Tribal and public health leaders have been adapting innovative ways to strengthen family unity and traditional values – important social determinants of health, especially for youth.
Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez and motivational speaker Echohawk Lefthand – both CPHE members – developed the “Building Communities of Hope” project, providing workshops in Navajo schools to address teen suicide and create resilience in Navajo youth. Former Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim spearheads a leadership program to empower youth to practice healthy lifestyles.
Following their second trip to Cuba in September, 2016, CPHE Navajo Nation CPHE member, Kerlissa Bitah, Teacher/ Coordinator, T’iis Nazbas FACE Program and Community School, led an initiative to create a “Trash to Art” contest in which parents were encouraged to work with their children to use everyday trash to create artwork. With over 100 submissions, the art was displayed in the local gym, at a planned event, with Vice President Nez as a guest speaker. At subsequent community gatherings, the CPHE Navajo Nation group has revived the Teec Nos Pos Community Garden, encouraging families to participate in the upcoming planting season. Health professionals and traditional healers consistently engage in health education during community meetings and events, and have developed screening programs and health fairs to address specific health issues such as nutrition, obesity, HIV, health fairs, hypertension, and diabetes. Preparations are underway now for the “Pray, Run, Eat Healthy & Exercise Daily” event in Navajo Nation on May 17, 2017.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 CPHE Newsletter, which can be accessed here.