CHA Led Project: Learning about Nutrition and Gardening

IMG_1504On October 30th, Community Health Advocates (CHA) Bo and Sheena Williams hosted an event promoting gardening at the Taylor Park Community Center and Garden. The event started with a talk from Bo Williams on the history of gardening in the African American Community. This was followed by a lunch and a day in the garden. Children at the Taylor Park Center helped construct raised beds that are easily accessible for senior adults.

Learn more about the CHA program and activities.


CHA Led Event: 6th Annual Rainbow Cancer Walk-a-Thon

event_editedOn October 27, 2017, Revelation Missionary Baptist Church held its 6th Annual Rainbow Cancer Walk-a-Thon. Started by Community Health Advocate Mrs. Gloria Carter, the event offers an opportunity for participants to memorialize the lives lost to cancer, celebrate cancer survivors, and learn more about different forms of cancer. After opening in prayer, Walk-a-Thon participants walked around the church’s life center.
Cancer education was provided by representatives of the Mitchell Cancer Institute. Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids came out to show their support.

BayouClinic Hosts 3rd Annual Bayou on the Move Event

On October 27, 2017, BayouClinic hosted its 3rd Annual Bayou on the Move event offering services and resources to households in the Bayou La Batre, AL, area. As a part of the event, more than 25 organizations provided an average of 16 services to each of the 76 households in attendance. Bayou on the Move activities included:

  • Screenings: Breast Exams, Blood Sugar Checks, Blood Pressure Checks, and HIV Testing
  • Healthy Lifestyle tips: Healthy Cooking Demonstrations, Walking Path to Live Music
  • Resources: Disaster Preparedness, Disability Services, Job Resources and Referrals, GED Registration, Parent Education, Housing Services, Senior Services, Domestic Violence Services, Mental and Behavioral Health Services, Substance Abuse Services, Homeless Services, WIC, Medicare Part D, and Prescription Assistance.

All of the households attending the event received a food box from Feeding the Gulf Coast.

According to BayouClinic’s website, Bayou on the Move is  “an ongoing initiative to improve the health of residents in Bayou La Batre and surrounding South Mobile County.”

Partnering to Make a Difference


Hodnett and Free_edited
CHA Barbara Hodnett with Mr. Clint Free from Trinity Family Ministries

Recently, the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) formed a partnership with Trinity Family Ministries to provide health education services during the organization’s annual Fall Festival and Health Fair. Through the partnership, Community Health Advocates (CHA) will teach participating youth about container gardening as a way to improve nutrition.


The partnership idea originated with a suggestion from Mr. John Jones, a member of the Sentinel Surveillance project Community Advisory Board. Through that connection, Dr. Martha Arrieta and Ms. Candis Patterson from the  CHC met with Mr. Clint Free, Coordinator of Community Development with Trinity Family Ministries to discuss ways in which the two organizations could partner. The result was CHA participation in the November 18th health fair. To learn more about the event, download the Fall Festival and Health Fair flyer.

Gulf States Health Policy Center Recruiting New Class of Community Research Fellows

The Gulf States Health Policy Center is offering a 16-week free training in public health for individuals in the Mobile, AL, area. Through the course, participants will:

  • Develop skills and tools to improve health in their community
  • Understand research and develop partnerships to create research that positively impacts the community.

Application deadline is November 6, 2017. Download the flyer for contact information.


Connecting Regionally: The UAB Community Engagement Institute Livestream



On Friday, October 6, 2017, as hundreds of community members and researchers gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, for the 4th Annual Community Engagement Institute (CEI), a smaller group gathered at the University of South Alabama (USA) Faculty Club to participate through a combination of livestreaming and in-person, interactive sessions. Dubbed the “USA CEI livestream”, this unique event came about through the Regional Community Engagement initiative of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences of which USA is a partner. The goals of the event were 1) to test a method for expanding the ability of regional partner institutions to participate in a large event from a distance, 2) to bring the CEI experience to USA’s research and community partners. The 22 individuals attending the event in Mobile watched a livestream of keynote speakers Dr. Errol Crook and Ms. Diane Bell McKoy. Through the Twitter hashtag #CEI2017, the Mobile attendees were able to ask questions of the speakers and connect with the events in Birmingham.

ArrietaDuring the breakout sessions, the Mobile site offered two presentations on community-engaged research. The first presenter, Dr. Martha Arrieta, provided an overview of the research apprentice concept as a new model of peer research. In doing so, she described the contributions of research apprentices to the Sentinel Surveillance Project, the benefits of the experience for apprentices, and the potential for future development. 

The second breakout presentation, by Naima Wells and Lynette Parker, told the story of engaging community members in planning for dissemination of the Sentinel Surveillance Project findings in the community. After an introduction to the project, they discussed the process of developing a framework for engagement, identifying key advisors for the planning purpose, and the methodology for ensuring community voices were heard and incorporated into the work.

Hanks_editedThe two presentations were followed by a discussion led by Dr. Roma Hanks. The dialogue focus was driven by the interest of attendees who sought first to learn more about the research apprenticeship and ways to make it become more formalized.  As the discussion evolved the participants sought to identify meaningful ways to expand community-engaged research to address community problems and identify opportunities to expand scholarly efforts. The discussion was followed by a networking lunch.

By providing the livestream with local activities and networking opportunities, the UAB CCTS in conjunction with the USA Center for Healthy Communities and USA Office of Research Development and Learning worked together to develop the regional engagement strategies. The goal is to continue developing strategies to further connect communities and researchers in the state and region.






Upcoming Events from Community Health Advocates

The Community Health Advocate (CHA) program provides motivated community members with training and resources to become active contributors and participants in activities addressing health needs in their communities. As a part of the program, CHA’s are encouraged to identify health concerns and develop their own strategies/programs for addressing these with support from the Center for Healthy Communities. The following CHA events were planned in connection with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Click each link to download a flyer for the event.

USA Family Medicine Center Becomes Reach Out and Read Program Site

The following article is cross-posted from the Med School Watercooler: The Blog of the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

The University of South Alabama Family Medicine Center recently became a Reach Out and Read program site, providing age-appropriate books to children at their well-child appointments.

Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national non-profit organization that advocates for child literacy by working with primary care clinics.

Dr. Ashlen Aggen, a family medicine resident with USA Health, said she is excited for USA Family Medicine to participate in the program. “All of our providers went through training to learn about the importance of helping children build their home libraries and to learn how to select age-appropriate books for children based on their level of development,” she said. “Our first year of the program will be funded by ROR, and USA Family Medicine will take on the expense of continuing the program.”

According to Dr. Aggen, it is important to emphasize the importance of reading to children at a young age. “Reading teaches children to imagine, explore and look at the world in a different way,” she said. “Reading unlocks the door to higher education and becoming whatever you want to be in this world. As a primary care team, the greatest thing we can do is be advocates for our patients. A program that will help set them on a path to achieving their dreams allows us to be the advocates our pediatric patients deserve.”

The Family Medicine Center recently held a “Champions of Reading” themed kick-off event. “At the event, we encouraged children to decorate their own capes and masks to become their own reading superheroes before ‘defending the city’ and taking pictures at our photo booth,” Dr. Aggen said. “Our clinic staff dressed up as various superheroes and fictional characters.”

To learn more about Reach Out and Read, click here.

See the original article or what’s new from the Med School Watercooler.

Community Engagement Institute Livestream with Interactive Presentations & Dialogue

The USA Center for Healthy Communities in partnership with the USA Office of Research Development & Learning will host a livestream of the 4th Annual Community Engagement Institute “Community Health from Engagement and Environmental Renewal (CHEER) for Civil Inclusion & Empowerment.” The event will take place in the Faculty Club of the University of South Alabama on October 6, 2017, from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. The keynote presentations will be broadcast from Birmingham with onsite presentations and discussions related to the inclusion of community members in research.

Keynote speakers: Crook 100

Errol D. Crook, M.D., Physician & Director of the Center for Healthy Communities,  USA College of Medicine


Diane Bell McKoy,  President and CEO of Associated Black Charities-Maryland


A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Space is limited so register today.

Download the event flier.

Gardening to Achieve Health and Build Relationships

constructing-bedsOn October 26, 2016, the
Community Health Advocate (CHA) led community garden project in the Ridge Manor Apartment homes held a blessing ceremony to launch the project. Attendees also planted the first seeds and plants in the new garden. Developed by CHAs Frewin Osteen and Judy Johnson, the project focuses on three objectives:

  • Improve healthful food consumption by providing opportunities for homegrown fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Promote intergenerational activities in which participants from diverse age groups, races, and cultures can cultivate new experiences
  • Promote both physical and mental health through: healthful food production, physical movement, urban ecosystem, intergenerational and intercultural opportunities, and horticultural therapy.

filling-bedsTo be truly community based, the project leader and partners reached out to Ridge
Manor residents to form a gardening committee and developed relationships with local schools, government,  business, and churches to build a broad coalition of support for the project. Community partners include:

Activities related to the community garden include:

  • The construction of raised beds and boxes to allow those with disabilities and older adults to participate. Up to 20 families living in Ridge Manor will have a garden plot.
  • Instruction on best practices of gardening and plant care for all participants
  • Weekly opportunities for interaction for gardeners, community partners, and participating youth to discuss progress.
  • Healthy food preparation demonstrations

The community garden is a CHA led project with support from the Center for Healthy Communities.