By Deidre Johnson, CEO & Executive Director
In 1997, under the leadership of Grant Jones, The Metro Denver Black Church Initiative was established to help build the capacity of Black churches in providing programs for at-risk youth, academically struggling students, and ex-offenders as well as health education and health screening programs. In 2005, the Initiative made the decision to focus its work solely on the health disparities facing African Americans and became The Center for African American Health (The Center).
While The Center’s strategies have evolved over the years, its purpose has remained constant due to a persistent need within our African American communities, which suffer higher rates of illness, disability, and premature death from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. I was selected by the Board of Directors to lead The Center in 2015 upon the retirement of our Founder. During the past three years we have been working to expand services to meet the needs of our community’s children, youth, and families. And we’ve engaged in a great deal of “behind-the-scenes” work to evolve how The Center can work in new ways that will help us address health disparities even more effectively. The following are some of the exciting new developments:
- Our new status as a Family Resource Center has equipped us with a variety of new tools, assessments, and best practices to help us offer comprehensive services to families and expand our resource and referral network.
- We’re proud to announce our new Community Health and Wellness Navigators, who connect individuals and families to resources and service providers in the areas of health insurance literacy, housing, food and clothing banks, parent education/support, transportation, and much more.
- Our BeHeard Mile High community health panel will continue to help us increase the understanding of community health assets and challenges; and deepen our partnerships with health equity advocacy and policy leaders to pursue long-term strategies that will improve access to care and the health and wellbeing of our community.
- We’re seeking families to participate in our Strengthening African American Families Program, a program enrolling families of children ages 0-3 and 3-5 that will offer skills training intervention for parents, children, and entire families.
- Through our Youth Civic Engagement Program, we are investing in the personal and civic growth of African American youth who will embark on a two-week learning trip to Uganda in June and develop their own community project here in Denver.
- Learning to Live Well provides an overview of the terminology used in health insurance coverage, explains the differences in use based on type of insurance, and offers participants basic tools to create a personal wellness plan. Sessions are held throughout Denver and Aurora.
- Through our Mental Health First Aid certification course, participants become equipped to identify when someone might be struggling with a mental health problem and how to connect them with appropriate support and resource.
We’d love to connect with you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 355-3423, visit our website—www.caahealth.org, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to engage with The Center for African American Health and learn how we can support you and your family.