Mary Ney, African Immigration Health Promotion Lab

As a public health major, in-class lectures offer plans and theories and models just waiting to be used in the real world.  You hear success stories and stories of failure, what to do and what not to do, but you never get to just do it. However, this semester I have the opportunity to just do it through Health Promotion Program Planning class in partnership with the African American Health Promotion Lab. This class allows for real world applications of concepts learned in the classroom, which enhances the overall learning experience.

Through this community partnership, we are tasked with assessing the needs of the Salem Ministries church community in order to develop a program targeting a specific issue. The African Immigrant Health Promotion Lab is committed to educating and improving the health of immigrants from the African diaspora. They specifically address health disparities within this community. My task in partnership with the African Immigrant Health Promotion Lab is to address issues in child nutrition and food access, and to create a program that will improve diet choices among this population.

At the service site, my classmates and I conducted a needs assessment of the community through observations and surveys, and based our plans off this information, as well as outside research. Initially, I thought this would be a simple task—find out what a population needs and make plans to provide that. However, this task has proven to be increasingly difficult because of all the moving parts. Not only are planning logistics often difficult to coordinate, but this program also has the potential to affect the lives of people whom we have met and those we have not. Working on a real project for a community partner has been incredibly rewarding, because of this potential.

This project is particularly important to me because I work for a child nutrition program in DC area schools. This experience, as well as the concepts learned in Health Promotion Program Planning and other public health classes, have enhanced my love for health and healthy eating, and provided a tangible option to work with an issue I am passionate about.

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