September 2014 National REACH Coalition Newsletter
"Advancing Racial and Ethnic Health Equity"

September is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

NRC Recognizes Infant Mortality Awareness 

Infant mortality continues to be a devastating health issue in the United States and around the world. Each year, during the month of September, communities around the country highlight this ongoing issue and the special efforts made to raise awareness. These efforts recognize that every member of a community can play a role in positively impacting and reducing infant mortality rates through programs, education and policies.
The Office of Minority Health believes that “neighborhoods, workplaces, community centers and places of worship can serve as prime locations for awareness building. Combining this with the implementation of culturally competent practices and the utilization of the enhanced CLAS Standards, these components will help decrease infant mortality disparities and bring about health equity. Place, race, and income do matter, but there are ways to account for them and address them in order to see more babies making it past their first birthday to live healthy lives.”
In support of this cause and to spread awareness throughout communities across the nation, NRC recognizes Infant Mortality Awareness Month.
High School Students Trained as Preconception Peer Educators / Health Ambassadors at Watch High School, Thomas Jefferson Campus in East New York, Brooklyn, NYC 
healthy Baby Begins with Us!

Infant mortality rates among African American babies are generally more than twice as high as those of the general population, and three times that for whites. One effort, recommended by the Office of Minority Health (OMH), to help  address this health disparity among racial and ethnic minorities is peer- to- peer education targeted to adolescents/ young adults, to increase awareness of the value of good preconception health preconception; and; thus to influence healthy lifestyle choices and behavior change to improve maternal and birth outcomes.

BPN is a 25 year old community based and centered non-profit with a mission to improve maternal and child health outcomes in under-resourced communities in Brooklyn, NYC. It has been partnering with our Brooklyn area public schools for over 20 years, providing school health education to middle/high school students. BPN’s aim is to influence and improve adolescents’ awareness of reproductive health, prevention of unintended pregnancies and eventually improved maternal outcomes in our communities.
For the past 12 years BPN has partnered with the NYCDOH Bureau of Maternal Infant and Reproductive Health Programs in a citywide collaborative – the Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative (IMRI), funded by the NYC Council.  BPN functions as the Brooklyn regional coordinator for the local IMRI. During 2013-2014 funding provided by the National REACH Coalition (NRC) CDC REACH grant – Reach Across the US Program added resources for another component of this BPN school-based work.  Preconception Peer Educators were trained for peer-peer sharing /learning and engagement in on-campus and community peer-peer health education activities help disseminate preconception health messages that may otherwise have seemed too foreign for a population that may not be actively seeking to start a family.
Students at the October 31st Halloween Health and Wellness Expo

Peers receive Certificates of Completion for Cornell University
Cooperative Extension’s Nutrition and Health program
Utilizing a tailored version of the Office of Minority Health (OMH) curriculum, A Healthy Baby Begins with You - a national campaign that raises awareness about infant mortality with an emphasis on the African American community - Brandy Watts, MPH, trained six (6) students   as Preconception Peer Educators (PPE). Their role is to function as health ambassadors in their school and community environments.  The goal of the PPE training is to empower the students peer educators to take action, to be proactive towards improving their personal/family health and for sharing health information within their communities.  PPE students learn about the many underlying factors of infant mortality that are preventable; and, that health in the preconception period is important to later good birth and other reproductive outcomes. The PPEs reported an increase in their own awareness, understanding of the value of preconception health, and individual actions for reproductive life planning, with a goal of avoiding unintended/unplanned pregnancies.  

National Family Fitness and Health Day

September 27th is National Family Health and Fitness Day

This month marks the 18th year that the United States recognizes Family Health & Fitness Day. Always set for the last Saturday in September, this annual celebration is a national health and fitness event to promote family involvement in physical activity and healthy living in alignment with goals of the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health.

Throughout the years, NRC has supported groups across the country that plan and implement projects in communities of color that focus on physical activity and healthy living.  Policy, Systems and Environmental change that increases physical activity and healthy nutrition within communities include complete streets that encourage safe walking and biking access, availability of fresh fruit and vegetables through farmers markets, community gardens and grocery stores, and education on proper diet and exercise through an array of community led initiatives.
In recognition of National Family Fitness and Health Day, organizations throughout the country will host family-related health and fitness events at schools, park districts, hospitals, YMCAs/YWCAs, malls, health clubs and other community locations. Local family health and fitness activities will vary and include activities such as walking events, low-impact exercises, health screenings, open houses, games and health information workshops.
If your local community does not have an event planned, here are some activities your family can do on September 27th:
  • Plan a Family walk after lunch
  • Play a game of catch or kickball
  • Plant vegetables and fruits in the backyard
  • Create a fun and healthy recipe with new veggies and/or fruits
NRC Mission:
To Increase the capacity of underserved racial and ethnic communities across the U.S. to achieve health equity.

About Us:
The National REACH Coalition (NRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, located in Washington D.C., that is committed to the elimination of health disparities and the achievement of health equity among racial and ethnic minorities.


This NRC Newsletter Edition Features Stories On:
Health Equity in the News

The HELEN Project

NRC's CTG Communities 

NRC's REACH Communities
(Success At-A-Glance)


Support the National REACH Coalition's work to promote, develop, and implement innovative techniques aimed at the elimination of health disparities within communities of color. Contribute to our efforts by making a generous donation to the National REACH Coalition's Annual Fund.




Are you a HELEN Member?

HELEN is a national network designed to support and strengthen health equity leadership and the exchange of ideas and information among health equity champions relative to the advancement of health equity in laws, policies, and programs. The HELEN forum will also share timely and essential information and forms health equity strategies and approaches at the local, state, regional and national level.

The Health Equity Leadership Exchange Network (HELEN) is a collaborative effort between the National REACH Coalition, Morehouse School of Medicine and National Collaborative for Health Equity.
HELEN members will learn how to effectively utilize social media, webinars, conferences, and community events to empower individuals and communities that play a significant role in the development of health equity laws, policies and programs.
To learn more about the project and become a HELEN project member, please visit     
The HELEN website will launch late September!!! 
The website will provide HELEN members a forum to share ideas, exchange information, access updates and analysis on the latest news and impact of specific laws and policies related to health equity.  
NRC's CTG Communities 

The National REACH Coalition was one of 3 national networks to receive a 5–year Acceleration Award through the CDC's Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program in 2011. The CTG program continues to support, disseminate, and amplify the evidence-based strategies for health improvement in African-American/ Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations.

In October 2013, the NRC selected and distributed funds to its 2013-2014 CTG sub-awardees.  Below are updates from these initiatives.

The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan at Work in the Detroit Community 

Pictured from left to right: (Monique Snyder, Owner Brainiacs Clubhouse Child Development Center, Apeksha Iyer, NRC-CTG Program Manager, Charlene Cole, National Kidney Foundation of Michigan Program Manager)

Detroit, Michigan does not have the best reputation. Descriptions of the city often includes images of shuttered homes and businesses, abandoned buildings, and the typical post-industrial fallout many mid-western cities have seen following the outsourcing of factories in that region. The data shows that times are tough in Detroit: household incomes decreased 36% from 1999 to 2011 and 41% of Detroit households report receiving food stamps assistance.
It is not surprising that such a high percentage of poverty results in negative health outcomes. A 2012 Detroit Public School survey of students found that over 20% of students are overweight. Adult obesity in Detroit is much higher than the national average, with 39% of the adult population there categorized as obese. Furthermore, rates of diabetes reveal a racial disparity: 22% of African Americans and 29% of Hispanics are diabetic compared to 15% of Whites.
Despite the grim picture these statistics paint, community coalitions in Detroit are displaying resilience and ownership over their community. Recognizing the community need, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan  (NKFMI), through the NRC’s Community Transformation Grant program, implemented several initiatives focused on healthy eating, physical activity, and tobacco control in Detroit. First, the coalition conducted assessments of early childcare settings to determine how well they did in providing healthy food and physical activity for their children.  The results of this assessment were used to provide guidance in developing healthy eating and physical activity policies.  Second, The NKFMI team also trained medical providers in clinics in Northeast Detroit to offer tobacco reduction resources to patients, including referrals to the Michigan Tobacco Quitline. 

Student at day care makes healthy pizza.

In August, NRC Program Manager, Apeksha Iyer and Angelica Alton visited Detroit to see the project being implemented by NKFMI. First stop included a daycare site implementing new nutrition and physical activity policies. The policy changes are customized for each of the 6-daycare sites and include incorporating healthy foods, increased physical activity and developing innovative strategies. One example includes Regie the healthy eating mascot that is a part of a nutrition and physical activity curriculum. Through this initiative, NKFMI hopes to impact over 2,100 children.
The NRC staff also met with local providers who received Tobacco Prevention and Control trainings. NKFMI is working with 4 healthcare provider organizations aiming to reach over 8000 patients. Providers expressed their appreciation for the training and how useful it was when working and establishing relationships with their clients that use tobacco products.
Detroiters are resilient.  Slowly community champions such are NKFMI are bringing about sustainable community change that offers healthier options. In 12 months, NKFMI has impacted the lives of more than 100,000 residents. 

The National REACH Coalition was one of 5 national networks to receive a 5–year  Award through the CDC's Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program in 2012. The REACH program continues to support, disseminate, and amplify the evidence-based strategies for health improvement in African-American/ Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations.

In February 2012, the NRC selected and distributed funds to its 2012-2013 REACH sub-awardees.  Below are updates from these initiatives.                                 

Docs on Bikes, a Public Health Program in Southwest Tucson

A group of Family Practice Residents from the El Rio Community Health Center in Southwest Tucson were spotted riding around Southwest Tucson on a Saturday morning in August conducting a ‘handlebar’ survey to identify community assets and barriers to adopting healthy lifestyles in the neighborhood.
“When we talk about barriers to health, we’re talking about things like the availability and accessibility of healthy food options, places to exercise, and the condition of the streets and sidewalks,” said Martha Monroy, program director for the Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
The doctors peddled their way through the neighborhood armed with a checklist of issues to review to help them better understand the barriers that exist that make it difficult to live an active lifestyle and follow a healthy diet in addition to other stressors in the community.

Martha Monroy (wearing UA red), from the Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health secured funding for the first “Docs on Bikes” program in Southwest Tucson.
“Riding a bike provides a different perspective of a neighborhood that you won’t get from driving around in a car. We wanted the doctors to see for themselves what it’s like to ride bikes in underserved neighborhoods,” said Monroy. “The residents will be using what they learned to better serve and counsel their patients and to see how they can influence positive community change.”
“Ultimately, the idea is to think in terms of how assets and challenges can be incorporated into the community projects that are part of their residency requirements. It is also a way to become familiar with the County resources that exist to encourage and help folks use bikes for transportation, recreation, health and stress management,” added Monroy.
Funding for Docs on Bikes was provided through the CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health, also known as the REACH program.
Monroy collaborated with many partners to roll out Docs on Bikes including the El Rio Community Health Center, Perimeter Cycling provided the bikes, the Pima County Department of Transportation, UA Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, UA College of Public Health and UA Department of Mexican American Studies. The residents are from the A.T. Still University program in Mesa, Ariz.
Monroy says she is working to secure a grant to continue the program.

Genesee County REACH/RANC
 Second Annual “Get Out & Move!” Health Extravaganza

Genesee County REACH/Reaching Across the Nation Consortium (RANC) project, coordinated by the Genesee County Health Department and community partners, hosted its Second Annual “Get Out and Move!” Health Extravaganza on Saturday, August 2, 2014, at Atwood Stadium in Flint, MI from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. Approximately 400 people attended the event, where the purpose was to address growing rates of obesity in Genesee County. As its name suggests, the event was designed to encourage individuals to ‘get up, get out, & move’ in both traditional and non‐traditional means. 

Activities included: healthy eating education including cooking demonstrations by Chef Nate Brown, health screenings, and other vendors that addressed the “total person.” This year special attention featured more activities geared towards children to address childhood obesity. Some activities included: the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Truck Farm and Snapping Turtle Truck. These activities introduced gardening to school aged children to teach them how to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, while promoting outside activities for physical fitness.
Other activities included a 5‐in‐one bounce house and obstacle course, and Dig Deep Youth Camp that utilized a number of activities that focused on endurance, strength building, and agility activities used by sports trainers. Also, included were performances such as: a silent inspirational mime performance, a local high school’s ROTC and Zumba Teams, and several other physical fitness demonstrations. The headliner was a variety of line dances lead by a local line‐dance group. All activities and performances demonstrated that it is easy for individuals to “get up, get out, and move” and have fun while doing so.
The REACH/RANC Coalition enlisted several sponsors that included the Genesee County Health Department, local funders, health plans, and many businesses and individuals. For additional information on this exciting event, please contact Tonya French‐Turner, Program Coordinator, Genesee County Health Department, (810) 257‐3194 or e‐mail


HealthVisions Midwest is building bridges connecting educational, recreational and city agencies to each other.   Agencies that once relied on themselves and their own resources, now share programs and space to encourage the citizens of East Chicago, IN to lead healthy lives.  The bridges were built over time through persistent nudging and inviting others to the table.
Cindy Rivas presenting “How to read food labels.”

Collaborators of the NRC Grant merged with the Bridges to Wellness Network thus creating a larger network to implement the healthy eating, active living and smoking cessation strategies in Lake County, IN. HealthVisions facilitates a monthly meeting to coordinate a calendar of events. In a recent survey, the Collaborators were very positive about the opportunities for sharing that these monthly meetings offered.
Well Walkers sharing stories.

Through the Network, the Well Walkers program, sponsored by St. Catherine Hospital, is offered at other facilities throughout the city.  Walkers started walking alone but soon began walking side by side and sharing stories.

HealthVisions’ mission is to “develop and facilitate partnerships and address systemic community health needs.”  The Reach Grant has enabled us to fulfill this mission with a concentrated effort in the City of East Chicago, IN.  Our presence in the community has given us an advantage in the Collective Impact process, Bridges to Care, begun by the Foundations of East Chicago.  Our staff participates in several of the work groups.  We continue to build bridges and bring agencies together to share resources and spread the word of the good things happening in Lake County, IN.

Rosa Montemayor handing out Bridges to Wellness information at a Wellness Healthy Fair.
Do you have an idea for a future article or is there a specific topic/issue you'd like us to cover? Please feel free to e-mail us at and let us know. We want to hear from you!

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