Category Archives: Health Disparities

Minority Health Advocates in RI Seek the Time, Expertise and Voices of 16-22 Year-Olds

Minority Health Advisory Committee Invites Applications
Open to Young People Ages 16-22

(College and high school students with community and public health experience, like the ones who recently helped at the Healthy Corner Store Makeover at Ama’s in Pawtucket, RI, are encouraged to apply for the Minority Health Advisory Committee Youth Ambassador Program.)

RHODE ISLAND – Are you a young person with ideas about how to improve “Minority Health” in RI?  Have you been working in your school or community on public health topics like increasing nutrition or decreasing tobacco-use?  Do you want to work with an adult mentor to learn about policies and programs that effect racial and ethnic minority communities?

The Minority Health Advisory Committee (MHAC) at the RI Department of Health is inviting applications from Minority Youth living in Rhode Island, 16 to 22 years old, for service as Minority Youth Ambassadors.  The term will last until June 2011, and MHAC meets monthly, on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 3:00-5:00pm.

MHAC seeks to have four ambassadors as part of their work providing “direct advice to the Director of Health; and indirect advice to the Department’s senior administrators and planners through the Director regarding the health of racial and ethnic minorities.”  Selection is based on “prior experiences, community representation,” and an interest in “eliminating health disparities, and working to achieve Health Equity.”

Once selected, an MHAC Youth Ambassador is expected to attend the monthly MHAC meetings; provide input and recommendations on “minority health issues, programs and policies, based on knowledge or experience;” work with an MHAC mentor; and prepare a project or presentation about a school- or community-related health topic.

To apply for the program or see more information, click here to download the application or call 401-222-5926.  Inquiries, as well as completed applications, can also be emailed to, or sent by mail to Jenn DeBoer, Office of Minority Health, Rhode Island Department of Health, 3 Capital Hill, Room 304, Providence, RI 02908-5097.


UHW Photo Diary, November 20, 2010: Healthy Corner Store Makeover, Pawtucket, RI

PROVIDENCE, RI – Healthier school lunches, calorie-counts posted alongside menu items, and taxes on soda: These are just some of the policy changes being proposed to fight and curb obesity rates in American children and adults.  Ultimately, the decision to incorporate these recommendations will be made by school boards, state-elected leaders, and other “policy-makers” and legislatures.  However, there is a role for average citizens, residents and families, and small business owners, including letter-writing and testimonials to political leaders, starting and joining campaigns and organizations that support your cause, and familiarizing friends and neighbors with the issues.

But what else can you do?  Here in the metro area of Rhode Island, another way to effect change has emerged for citizens and businesses alike:  The Healthy Corner Store Initiative led by the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI), “a community campaign to add healthy options and variety to the food available at small markets in the city.”

See my photo diary below or my online slide show from their most recent Corner Store Makeover; it was at Ama’s Variety Store and Mini Mart in Pawtucket, RI on November 20, 2010.


New Battambang on Elmwood Ave. in Providence was one of the first stores that participated in the Healthy Corner Store project.  These photos show some of the produce the store carried before the makeover – and where in the store they were originally located.

EJLRI Director and Lead Organizer, Amelia Rose (pictured in the first photo holding notes) led a diverse group and alternating number of volunteers throughout the day, including youth attending high school in Providence, Environmental Studies and Art students from Brown University and RISD, and community members that had read about the day and initiative.

Ama Amponsah, who, along with her husband and children, run “Ama’s Variety Store and Mini-Mart,” is originally from Ghana in the northwest region of Africa.  Today, her children are young adults “raised in the store,” one with a college degree and two en-route.  Like their mother, Alethea, Isaac and Germain all are very friendly and familiar with the steady customer base that visits on the day of the makeover.

Seeing a group of young people outside doing positive things at the neighborhood store emerged as a conversation-starter and a contagion.  One shopper who stopped to talk to the group, Tamika Dias, eventually inquired into how to enroll her own teenage son in programs at EJLRI.  Even Urban Health Watch caught the bug; eventually, I put down the camera, picked up materials and made a sign of my own.

EJLRI provided signs for labeling snacks considered healthy, like those low in sugar or containing recommended nutritional values, and, of course, fruits and vegetables.  They also brought in and stocked the store with other healthy foods, while changes outside included signs drawn by RISD students and a new paint job.


To see more pictures from the makeover, click here to view an online photo slideshow.  For more information about the Environmental Justice League of RI, visit or call (401) 383-7441.

Recent Links and Articles on Health: Nutrition, Access to Care, and Challenges to Overcome

PROVIDENCE, RI – Below are some links for those of you interested in the topics of Childhood Obesity, Access to Nutrition, Access to Affordable Care, and Overcoming Health Disparities. They include short-form press releases, podcasts with Public Service Announcements, videos explaining local initiatives, and long-form studies especially posted for those that do Health Policy work. The sources and references for these links come from a variety of places, including (but not limited to) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), RI Kids Count, and right here on We know there is a lot, so we leave you with these parting words (and requests): Take A Peek; Take Your Time; and Take A Minute – to leave a comment with your own links, resources or articles.

Recent Links on Childhood Obesity & Nutrition

Heavier and wider kids
From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
HHS HealthBeat

A study says more American kids have been growing overweight – and, the study, which looked at different generations of kids, finds overweight kids have been growing even fatter. (…) The increase in waist size especially could cause more health problems.

Keep Reading
Download/listen to a Short Podcast:


School Environment Affects Diabetes Risk
(And School-based Obesity Intervention Works)
From the National Institutes of Health

Healthier foods at school, longer and more intense physical activity and lessons in healthy lifestyles can reduce obesity and other risk factors for diabetes. These findings, from an NIH-funded study, suggest that school-based changes might help at-risk kids improve their health. (…) At the end of the study, kids who had been overweight or obese at the intervention schools had a 21% lower obesity rate than those at the comparison schools. Other diabetes risk factors, like larger waist size, also fell more at the intervention schools.

Keep Reading


Providence Healthy Corner Store Initiative (PHCSI)
Learn More, Review Recent Work

The Providence Healthy Corner Store Initiative is a community campaign to add healthy options and variety to the food available at small markets in the city. By working with store owners and local farms, the PHCSI wants to make it easier for all families to find and cook healthy food. Choosing more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to take care of your body and reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses.

About PHCSI – The Video
Providence en Espanol Covers PHCSI
NBC/Turn to 10 Covers PHCSI


Carrots or Candy in Corner Stores?
Federal Facilitators and Barriers to Stocking Healthier Options
Listed in the CDC Public Health Law News

Sheila Fleischhacker and Joel Gittelsohn have written the article “Carrots or Candy in Corner Stores?: Federal Facilitators and Barriers to Stocking Healthier Options” in the Indiana Health Law Review. The article examines federal legal facilitators and barriers to stocking healthier options in the food environment, with particular emphasis on how healthy foods get to smaller grocery stores or “corner stores” in predominantly low-income areas.

Click here to download/read the 34-page article.


Notables from the Farm Fresh RI Newsletter and Blog
Farm Fresh Rhode Island is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2004.

1) The vision of Farm Fresh RI A New England abundant with diverse family farms and fertile soils, with locally and honestly produced foods and flavors at the heart of every dinnertable.  One of their objectives is to “Increase access to fresher, tastier food.”  In that regard, they recently listed several “Benefits at Farmers Markets (in RI)”

  • SNAP, formerly Food Stamps. Just bring your EBT card to the welcome desk at a participating farmers market. All Farm Fresh markets also provide up to $5 free each day you use your EBT card to shop at the market. Many of our markets have SNAP personnel on site who can help you determine if you are eligible and fill out the application.
  • WIC Farmers Market Checks and Fruit and Vegetable Checks can be used at RI farmers markets. Just give the check directly to the farmer at the market. WIC info is here.
  • Senior Coupons: low-income seniors (60+) are eligible for $15 worth of checks to spend at local farmers markets. Call a senior center for more info


2) The Market Mobile brings food directly from producer to plate. Here’s how Market Mobile works:  Every week, Farm Fresh works with local producers to list food for sale online. Producers log onto the Market Mobile site and enter what foods are available this particular week, the quantity available, and the price per unit. On Thursdays, Farmers arrive at a delivery hub and drop off orders in each customer’s box. One delivery truck goes out with all of the orders. For more info please contact Hannah at (401) 312-4250 or by email at


Tackling Obesity in RI
Urban Health Watch Radio, Episode 3

On Episode 3 of Urban Health Watch Radio, we spoke to a roundtable of health advocates and experts on the topic of obesity, taking a special look at rates and trends in RI, and how to turn things around individually and through community involvement. We talked about ways to make changes at work with you and your colleagues, at doctors’ offices and health centers between physicians and parents, and at home with your family with tips on how to access nutritious, healthy, and affordable fresh foods. We also discussed programs, policies, and strategies for outreach specifically targeting children and youth.  Guests from Episode 3 will help you understand how to take action, from where we live, work, and/or play.

Click here to listen to the podcast ANYTIME from your computer.

Learn About Urban Health Watch Radio


Links About Access to Care

Clinica Esperanza – Hope Clinic: Free Health Clinic in Providence

Clinica Esperanza- Hope Clinic
60 Valley Street Unit 5 “The Plant”
Providence, RI 02909

NO HEALTH INSURANCE? Check out a FREE Health Clinic Happening in Providence Every Tuesday and Friday, 5:00 to 8:00 PM. Clinica Esperanza- Hope Clinic Hope Clinic offers free preventive health screenings and doctor exams in a friendly and confidential environment. The clinic is open to adults who live in Rhode Island and have no health insurance. An appointment is needed. Find more info online at or by phone: (401) 347-9093 or (401) 649-9683.

NO TIENES SEGURO MEDICO? Ven para servicios, GRATIS, en una Clinica de Salud que ocurre cada Martes y Viernes, 5:00 – 8:00 PM. Clinica-Esperanza es una clinica de salud gratuita que ofrece varios examenes preventivos y consultas medicas en un ambiente amigable y confidencial. La clinica atendera adultos que viven en Rhode Island sin seguro médico. Es necesario hacer una cita. Encontraras mas informacion si vesitenos en o por telefono: (401) 347-9093 or (401) 649-9683.


RI Kids Count Reports Fewer Insured Children in RI
From the RI Kids Count Newsletter and Website
September 16, 2010

“’The economic downturn of 2008 and 2009 resulted in the loss of jobs, and with that the loss of employer sponsored health coverage. We are seeing these effects in the children’s health insurance coverage numbers released today,’” stated Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.”

Providence, RI – Rhode Island KIDS COUNT released new data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS reports that 7.7% of Rhode Island children were uninsured in the three-year period from 2007-2009, an increase from 6.4% in the three years from 2004-2006, the period just before the economic downturn. (…) Rhode Island now ranks 19th in the nation for children’s health insurance coverage, down from 13th in 2004-2006. (…) Children with health insurance are more likely to receive treatment for health conditions such as asthma and ear infections, that if left untreated can have life-long consequences and lead to more serious and costly health problems. Uninsured children and adults are more likely to have costly hospitalizations and emergency room visits that could have been prevented with access to regular health care.

Keep Reading/Download the Press Release

More from RI Kids Count


Affordable Care and Access for All Rhode Islanders
Urban Health Watch Radio, Episode 1

On Episode One, we speak to a roundtable of health advocates and experts about issues of affordable health care and access for all Rhode Islanders. We’ll talk about the opportunities available to entrepreneurs and self-employed workers and to families and residents who are uninsured, under insured or earning lower incomes. We’ll also talk about services that hospitals and health centers offer by choice and the ones they’re now required to offer by law. Episode one’s experts will help us understand why insurance or access to regular care is important to children and families and they’ll review policy changes and updates to make sure everyone is informed about all their health insurance and access options.

Click here to download/listen to a podcast ANYTIME from your computer.

Find All Three Episodes of Urban Health Watch Radio


Other Links

Why The Poor Pay Virtually No Attention to Those ‘Quit Smoking’ Campaigns
By Carolyn Thomas

A fascinating study in the UK sheds some light on that question by observing that the poorer you are, the more likely you’ll be to take up smoking, and the less likely you’ll also be to quit smoking. It helps to explain the spectacular lack of success that otherwise effective anti-smoking campaigns have among lower socioeconomic populations. (…) [R]esearchers conclude that disadvantaged populations will continue to resist health promotion measures like ‘quit smoking’ campaigns until their more urgent short-term problems are successfully addressed. (…) Poor housing conditions, occupational hazards, and environmental dangers are more immediate threats to the health of those in lower socioeconomic positions than is smoking.

Blog/Article Link:

Original Study Link:


Improving Your Health Literacy
from “Navigating the Health Care System: Advice Columns from Dr. Carolyn Clancy”

In this article, found on the webpage of the Agency for Health Research and Quality, Dr. Carolyn Clancy gives great tips on how to improve interactions with pharmacists. October, she says, is “Health Literacy Month,” which is “a good time to try these suggestions,” writes Clancy, who writes an advice column called “Navigating the Health Care System.” Here are some excerpts from some of her suggestions:

  • Have another adult with you.
  • Bring all your medicines to your next doctor’s visit.
  • Ask questions. Then, make sure you get and understand the answers.
  • Repeat information back to your doctor or nurse. After your doctor or nurse gives you directions, repeat those instructions in your own words.
  • Let the doctor’s office know you need an interpreter if you don’t speak or understand English very well. You have a right to an interpreter, at no cost to you.

Read more

Community Datebook Updates and Partner Events: Wednesday, October 13 on

by Reza Corinne Clifton

PROVIDENCE, RI – Below are some of the latest updates and posts found on the Community Datebook Page of You’ll notice that several of the events come from YWCA Northern Rhode Island, an organization located in Woonsocket, RI, close to the Massachusetts-RI border, and not far from Worcester, MA. Like Urban Health Watch, health events at YWCA NRI are supported, in part, through a Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant offered through the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Follow events and updates directly on the Community Datebook Page, or if you are interested in other health events in the Northern RI area, click here to see a full listing of YWCA NRI fall health events.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Workshop on Basic Health Issues and Screening Information
With the “Healthy Choices Book”
Presented by YWCA Northern Rhode Island and Lifespan

Wednesday, October 13
YWCA Northern Rhode Island
514 Blackstone Street
Woonsocket, RI

Registration is required (and still available) by calling 401-769-7450 ext 12.
Participants will receive a complimentary book.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Community Health Fair
Presented by SEDC:
the Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
270 Elmwood Ave.
Providence, RI 02907
10AM-12PM & 5PM-7PM

Services Available at the event include: Free seasonal flu shots, basic health screenings, free HIV testing, community resources, children’s activities and more! For more information, or to acquire a flyer in Khmer, Hmong, and Lao, call SEDC at (401) 274-8811.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Presented by Lifespan Community Health Services

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
10-11 AM
270 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI

Open to those who do not have insurance.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

“Fall Women’s Wellness Series on Nutrition/Exercise”
First Day of Classes

Thursday, October 14, 2010
1:30 PM
YWCA Northern Rhode Island
514 Blackstone Street
Woonsocket, RI

YWCA Northern Rhode Island is offering a “Fall Women’s Wellness Series on Nutrition & Exercise.” The program will consist of four Thursday Afternoons at 1:30 PM (Oct 14, Oct 21, Oct 28 and Nov 4) or two Thursday Evenings at 6:30 PM (Oct 28 and Nov 4). Registration is required. For more info, or to register, call 401-769-7450 ext 12.  Click here to see the full list of fall season health events happening at YWCA NRI.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Women’s Stress Reduction & Relaxation Program
Presented by YWCA Northern Rhode Island

Saturday, October 16
10:00 AM
Mercy Rehab at Mt. St. Rita’s
15 Sumner Brown Road
Cumberland, RI

YWCA Northern RI invites women to enjoy a day of relaxation techniques, Reiki, Massages, Light lunch, entertainment, etc. Registration is required. For more info, or to register, call 401-769-7450 ext 12. Click here to see the full list of fall season health events happening at YWCA NRI.


October 18-21, 2010

7th National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations
Improving health care for culturally diverse populations:
A new place on the national health agenda

Presented by Diversity Rx

October 18-21, 2010
Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace
201 East Pratt Street
Baltimore, MA

Read additional information about the conference objectives here.  For details on registration, logistics and accommodations, click here.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Community Health Fair
Presented by SEDC:
the Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
60 North Main St.,
Woonsocket, RI 02895
10AM – 12PM

Services Available at the event include: Free seasonal flu shots, basic health screenings, free HIV testing, community resources, children’s activities and more! For more information, or to acquire a flyer in Khmer, Hmong, and Lao, call SEDC at (401) 274-8811.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Health Justice Voice Meeting
Learn the Truth, Get a Voice / Conozca la Verdad y Promuevala

Monday, October 25, 2010
5:30 – 7:30 PM
John Hope Settlement House
7 Thomas P. Witten Way
Providence, RI

Free and Open to the Public / Gratis y Abierto a la comunidad
Light Dinner will be provided / Se sirven comida

For more information about the meeting or the Health Justice Voice program click here or call 421-6993 x319. / Para aprender informacion del programa o de la reunion, apunte/haz clic aqui o llame al 421-6993 x319.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4th Annual New England Regional Children’s Heath Care Summit
Presented by The New England Alliance for Children’s Health,
An Initiative of Community Catalyst

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Radisson Hotel
700 Elm Street
Manchester, New Hampshire

FREE OF CHARGE / Registration closes October 18, 2010

Advocates for Children’s Health are invited to take advantage of this free conference and encouraged to forward the invitation to others who might be interested.  Registrants are also invited to bring literature to the Summit to share with other NEACH partners.

For more information about the conference, click here to download a draft of the agenda or contact Maia Fedyszyn at 617-275-2871 or  To register for the conference, click here.

Looking at Native American Health on the Anniversary of Columbus

by Reza Corinne Clifton

This post also appears here and on

Looking at Native American Health on the Anniversary of Columbus

PROVIDENCE, RI – On Monday, October 11, many around the country were commemorating the explorations and accomplishments of Christopher Columbus, for it was the annual federal holiday honoring his adventures of 1492. Yet not everyone sees reason to celebrate this “discoverer” of the New World. Here on Urban Health Watch, and in partnership with, we decided to take a look at another angle of the Columbus legacy: Issues and Disparities in Native American Health. One of the experts we turned to was Donald Warne, M.D., who, according to the health documentary, Unnatural Causes, comes from “a long line of Oglala Lakota traditional healers,” and was “trained in medicine at Stanford and public health at Harvard and has studied diabetes education and minority health policy.” We also turned to the topic of sexual violence against Native American women, a topic that’s been covered in great detail by the activist and educator, Julianne Jennings, and by the nonprofit/NGO, Amnesty International (and Amnesty USA).

Check out these great links to learn more about the enduring health challenges facing Native Americans / American Indians.

Federal Indian Policies and Health
Featuring Dr. Donald Warne
From the UNNATURAL CAUSES series: Episode 4 – Bad Sugar

Historically, federal Indian policies have been destructive to Native American communities – ranging from removal to assimilation and termination. These policies have had a negative impact on health and health-related behaviors. More recent trends towards self-determination and tribal control provide reason to hope.

Info, extended:
Info, short:


Culture of Diabetes – Native Americans and Futurelessness
Featuring Dr. Donald Warne
From the UNNATURAL CAUSES series: Episode 4 – Bad Sugar

In some Native American communities, diabetes is so common that people grow up feeling that it is in some ways, inevitable. “I don’t have diabetes yet,” is what Dr. Warne often hears from his patients. Yet hope for the future is an important factor in preventing and controlling diabetes – something health care practitioners need to take into account when treating patients.

Info, extended:
Info, short:


No justice for alaskan and native american women
AmnestyUSA | May 19, 2008

One in three Native American or Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives. Most do not seek justice because they know they will be met with inaction or indifference. Besides providing data and information on trends, it features Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International, Kate Gilmore.

Youtube Video Link:



More about Women and Native Americans From Julianne Jennings:

From Amy Stretten/

From and More from Dr. Donald Warne


Summer Spots: Recent News and Timely Updates from an Urban Health Watch Perspective

by Michelle Wilson,
Director of Community Services, Urban League of RI

PROVIDENCE, RI – Here at Urban Health Watch, we’ve been steadily working on connecting you to resources through Urban Health Watch Radio – and the online pages corresponding with each episode. We’ve discussed and posted resources dealing with access to care and access to health careers, and, through the Community Datebook Page, we’ve informed of you key trainings and important meetings happening in-person and online. However, we’re not the only ones keeping busy this summer, as you’ll see in the excerpts and links below. Check out some of the recent conversations and actions in the areas of HIV/AIDS research, prevention, treatment and advocacy. Much of it deals with the African American community, which, according to a 2009 fact sheet from the CDC, accounts for “a higher proportion of cases at all stages of HIV/AIDS—from infection with HIV to death with AIDS—compared with members of other races and ethnicities.” It’s clear that health advocates near and far have work to do – even during this hot New England summer. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.


Advance in Quest for HIV Vaccine
HIV research is undergoing a renaissance that could lead to new ways to develop vaccines against the AIDS virus and other viral diseases. Click here to keep reading.

Obama to Outline Plan to Cut H.I.V. Infections
Wall Street Journal: President Obama will unveil a new national strategy this week to curb the AIDS epidemic by slashing the number of new infections and increasing the number of people who get care and treatment. Click here to keep reading.

White House Meeting on Black Men and HIV/AIDS
C-Span: Dr. Garth Graham joined Federal, State and local experts, providers, community members, and men living with HIV at an ONAP convened meeting to raise awareness about the domestic HIV epidemic among Black men. Click here to keep reading to see the video.

Black Community Response to HIV/AIDS
C-Span: Panelists talk about responses by the black community to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among African-American men. Among the issues addressed are homophobia and the stigma associated with HIV status, access to adequate health care, education programs, the role of the black church, and the need for open dialogue about the epidemic. Click here to keep reading or to see the video.

Episode 2 is Here: Urban Health Watch Radio

(90.3 FM or streaming online live at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010: 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Friday, July 23, 2010: 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Tuesday, July 27, 2010: 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Friday, July 30, 2010: 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Tuesday, August 3, 2010: 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Friday, August 6, 2010: 12:30 – 1:00 PM



RHODE ISLAND – Providence, Rhode Island-based blog, Urban Health Watch (, and Southern RI Area Health Education Center (AHEC) have united to launch Urban Health Watch Radio, a public awareness campaign and radio program on 90.3 FM, WRIU – a broadcast service of the University of Rhode Island and a station that can be heard throughout Southern Rhode Island as well as other areas of the state; parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island, NY; and worldwide or from anywhere via an Internet webcast. The goal of Urban Health Watch Radio is to provide actionable steps that people can use everyday by extending health education into the community and delivering culturally appropriate messages about public health. is managed by the Urban League of RI, an affiliate of the National Urban League, and funded by a Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant offered by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Urban Health Watch Radio is made possible by a grant from Southern Rhode Island Area Health Education Center (AHEC), an organization striving to, among other goals, increase the interaction of health professionals with communities in southern Rhode Island.

For more information, click here to keep reading, email, or call 401-351-5000 extension 119.