May 2014 National REACH Coalition Newsletter

"Advancing Racial and Ethnic Health Equity"
National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Since 2011, May has been recognized as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

We know that there are benefits to being physically fit. Yet, many of us are not as fit as we would like to be, usually because we have trouble making the time for regular physical activity in our busy lives. National Physical Fitness and Sports month reminds all Americans to make physical activity, sports participation and good nutrition a priority in their everyday lives.

Regular physical activity increases your chances of living a longer, healthier life, and also reduces your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. 

Physical inactivity and obesity are two of several factors linked to type 2 diabetes. Some population groups are also at higher risk, including a number of racial and ethnic minorities. Groups at higher risk for the disease include African-Americans, Asian-Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders. The Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial, led by the National Institutes of Health, has shown that getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, and losing 5% to 7% of body weight can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% in people at higher risk of the disease.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that people:

• Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, swimming, and raking leaves.
• Perform muscle-strengthening activities – like lifting weights and using exercises bands – at least 2 days a week.

This month, we challenge you to get 30 minutes of physical activity every day. 

The best way to become physically fit is to find an activity you enjoy doing and gradually work it into your daily routine. Doing something that brings you pleasure can help you stick to your fitness program and reach your goals.

You can find some tips for adding more
physical activity to your daily routine at

Be sure to speak with your physician or other healthcare provider before starting an exercise program if you have any medical concerns

For more information on physical fitness visit

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 Launch of a National Forum for Health Equity Champions

NAATPN Held its Consortium Meeting 

NRC's CTG Communities 

NRC's REACH Communities 


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.



Did You Know?

National Bike to School Day

The first-ever National Bike to School Day took place on May 9, 2012, in coordination with the League of American Bicyclists' National Bike MonthAlmost 1,000 local events in 49 states and the District of Columbia joined together to encourage children to safely bicycle or walk to school. National Bike to School Day provides an opportunity for schools across the country to join together to celebrate and to build off of the energy of National Bike Month.  The date for National Bike to School Day 2014 has been set - mark your calendars for May 7, 2014, and start gearing up to ride again.

No matter what shape you are in or your racial/ethnic background, the National REACH Coalition encourages you to take charge of your health and get more active during the month of May!

Evidence-based interventions provide promising strategies for reducing racial, ethnic health disparities
The CHDIR* report is a source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the article is retrieved from
Evidence-based interventions at the local and national levels provide promising strategies for reducing racial and ethnic health disparities related to HIV infection rates, immunization coverage, motor vehicle injuries and deaths, and smoking, according to a new report by the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health EquityThe report, published today as an MMWR Supplement, describes CDC-led programs addressing some of the health disparities previously highlighted in the CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Reports, (CHDIR), 2011 and 2013.

The CHDIR reports highlight differences in mortality and disease risk for multiple conditions related to behaviors, access to health care, and social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, age, and work.
“Reducing and eliminating health disparities is central to achieving the highest level of health for all people,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “We can close the gap when it comes to health disparities if we monitor the problem effectively and ensure that there is equal access to all proven interventions.”

“These interventions demonstrate progress toward health equity. They show the elimination of health disparities as an achievable goal and encourage further implementation of evidence-based initiatives and interventions addressing health disparities and inequities,” said Leandris C. Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., CDC’s associate director for Minority Health and Health Equity. The release of this supplement coincides with 2014 National Minority Health Month, which raises awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities across the United States. 

For more information about health disparities, visit the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity site.

*CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Reports, 2011 and 2013.
The NRC Launches a National Forum for Health Equity Champions
The National REACH Coalition has partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies to develop a national exchange network for health equity champions.  The Health Equity Leadership and Exchange Network (HELEN), recently unveiled at the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Spring Health Braintrust Summit, will provide a national forum for registered members to locate and share information about timely, relevant, and pressing policy issues impacting health equity. 
The HELEN website will launch and be available to all registered HELEN members by Summer 2014.  If you are interested in learning more about the HELEN initiative and becoming a member, we encourage you to visit the HELEN Membership page on the NRC website.
The NAATPN Meets its Network Members During 
Consortium Meeting

The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) held its consortium meeting in Atlanta, GA, on April 3. As a NAATPN network member, the National REACH Coalition helps to develop and disseminate culturally tailored messaging on tobacco-related and cancer health disparities.
National REACH Coalition staff members, Cathy Morales and Angelica Alton, met with other network members and discussed key activities that increased the impact of the grant's objectives. Over the next few months the consortium will be developing training and resource tools that will be shared with their network partners. One such resource is the 3rd edition of the Cultural Competence in Cancer Care pocket guide. Previous editions of the guide, which provides historical contexts and culturally tailored approaches to cancer care for racial and ethnic patients, have been used as training tools for healthcare professionals.

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, through a competitive application process, the NRC selected and distributed funds to its 2013-2014 CTG
 sub-awardees.  Below are updates from several of the CTG initiatives.
Healthy Heritage Movement Offers Healthier Living Options to Riverside City Residents in California

           Well maintained and clean neighborhood street in Riverside City, California.

A stroll through the streets of East Riverside depicts the irony of a neighborhood surrounded by lush citrus plantations, but commonly described as a food desert with almost no access to fresh fruits or vegetables. A visitor or local resident may find a number of fast-food restaurants instead, particularly along University Avenue (pictured above).  Recent statistics show that approximately thirty-percent of local residents of East Riverside live in poverty. Increased gang activity has resulted in a decrease of outdoor physical activity for community members. The well-maintained lawns and homes, and the generally welcoming feel to the neighborhood can be misleading for those who do not reside in the city.

The Healthy Heritage Movement’s (HHM) CTG Initiatives were developed to decrease the disproportionate number of African Americans affected by diet-related chronic diseases and food security issues in East Riverside.  Their initiatives focused on increasing the physical activity and healthy eating opportunities. The HHM's CTG coalition structured the Walk By Faith program, a healthier living program in collaboration with the city's churches.  The program links five churches—with a total membership of 500 people—via a walking route through the East Riverside neighborhood. Each church has a liaison who helps coordinate and keep a regular schedule of walks along the neighborhood route.  

The HHM's Living Life on Purpose initiative brings in various types of experts—chefs, dietitians, personal trainers, and motivational speakers—to educate church parishioners on healthier living options. The program provides weekly sessions designed to increase both physical activity and healthy eating.  Participants keep a journal of their food intake and physical activity, and record their BMI measurements both at the beginning and end of the six-week program to measure their overall progress. 

It is evident from the number of local residents who support HHM's events and activities, that the East Riverside neighborhood has a strong identity and sense of community. This has become a vital asset for this CTG program, irrespective of any obstacles that may interfere along the way.
Spirit of Hidalgo Brings Community Members Fresh Produce with Mobile Farmers Market 
Back to Front: Nathan and Hailey Kerr point out different types of plants in the garden, and demonstrate their gardening techniques at the monthly mobile farmers market.
Vast is the word that best describes Hidalgo County, in southwestern New Mexico.  The population density is estimated at one person per square mile. Twenty-three percent of the 5,000 residents of the county live below the poverty line, and have access to only one full service supermarket.  These factors, combined with a lack of infrastructure, had led to inaccessible and unaffordable, fresh fruits and vegetables. In March 2014, the Spirit of Hidalgo's CTG coalition established a monthly mobile farmers market to increase access to fresh, locally grown produce for Hispanic/Latino residents.  On average, five vendors are available each month at the market, selling among other things, pecans, various flower and vegetable seeds, pumpkin empanadas, and lettuce grown by local kids in nearby Lordsburg. The mobile market plans to promote local gardening among the residents in the area. 
Two market vendors offer service to Cody Kerr and her 11 year old daughter, Hailey Kerr.
Currently, there are 30 customers on average, who utilize the market on a regular basis.  While this may seem small, it is impressive for a place where a trip to the supermarket typically includes a hour-long drive for any Hidalgo County resident. The mobile market and availability of fresh produce has resulted in a healthy food movement for the area, and will continue to expand local business growth at the same time.
NRC's REACH Communities

In September 2012, the National REACH Coalition was awarded a 5-year grant through the CDC's REACH 2012 program.  The NRC funded 15 community-based organizations engaged in developing strategies to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. Due to recent CDC operating budget cuts, the REACH 2012 program ended. However, the work continues and speaks volumes to what impact community-led efforts can make towards the reduction of racial and ethnic health disparities.  Recent accomplishments of REACH 2012 sub-awardees are shared below.
The University of Arizona’s Initiative Increases Physical Activity for Youth in Local Community
Bicycle Donation Prepares Kids for Training Classes
In February, members of Wheels for Kids, working with the Perimeter Bicycling Association, and the University’s REACH 2012 program, were successful in getting 15 bicycles donated to the Roy Drachman Clubhouse of the Boys and Girls Club, in Tucson. The bikes will be used for upcoming bicycle training classes for youth. Wheels for Kids accepts year-round donations of used bikes that can be refurbished for children in need. 

The University of Arizona's Bike in Baile Community Event

University of Arizona’s REACH 2012 initiative hosted its first "Bike-In Baile Event" on Saturday April 5th, which included a community bike ride around the local neighborhood and practice bike drills.  A number of fun activities and games were made available for the children in attendance; including a live performance by the Latin/Pop band "Diluvio".
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Made Great Strides with their REACH Initiative    
More than two-thirds of residents in the state of Alabama are currently overweight and 80% of adults are not eating a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables. As a result, rates of heart disease and diabetes are steadily rising, particularly within the African American community. In an effort to address these health concerns, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) partnered with the Mount Pilgrim Baptist District Association to engage the minority population. The UAB initiative improved access to healthy eating and beverage opportunities for African-American congregants within the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist District Association.
The owner of the city’s Marino’s Grocery contributed to the initiative by providing fresh produce, fruits, and vegetables to the Mt. Pilgrim Association at a discounted rate to increase residential access to healthier food options.  To compliment these efforts, a healthy food initiative kick-off event with 150 attendees, hosted by Sardis Baptist Church, was held in early August 2013. Attendees were introduced to a creative and cultural praise dance, used to promote and further increase their levels of physical activity.

In summary, the UAB and Mt. Pilgrim collaboration resulted in tremendous support from five Alabama church districts that also received toolkits from UAB’s praise and worship dance and bible walking groups. The UAB's REACH initiative has led to an increased level of physical activity and healthier eating options for local residents.  
The National REACH Coalition recently moved to a Monthly distribution of its newsletter. 
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