Building Healthier, Stronger Communities

The NAACP Health Programs Department has made strides in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic; ending childhood obesity; working to implement the Affordable Care Act in all 50 states and reducing health disparities among communities of color. The Department has been a strong governmental partner—working with HHS on the promotion of the re-launch of and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act across the nation.  As well as working as a partner with the U.S. Surgeon General’s call to action on walking—and contributing to that initiative.

This past year saw the launch of The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative initiative website.  The site has a video and toolkit with information that faith leaders need to educate their congregants on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community.   These tools are designed to engage faith leaders to join the fight in ending this insidious disease.  The Health Programs Department conducted a year-long, 12-city research tour reaching over 250 faith leaders across denominations to identify best practices and challenges when addressing HIV within the Black Church.

Since the launch of The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative manual there has been a lot momentum for trainings; in addition to 130 published articles reaching a viewing audience of 20,393,780. The manual was released at the annual NAACP National Convention in Houston, Texas 2012. Since then, there have been a total of 20 trainings in 20 cities and across national denominations and fellowships such as: National Baptist – USA; National Baptist – America, African Methodist Episcopal (AME); African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion); Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship and other ministerial alliances. Among these trainings the Health Department has reached over 920 individuals and at least 435 faith leaders.

The NAACP Health Department was invited to the White House to meet with Valerie Jarrett and members of the White House HIV Policy office on February 7th to discuss the HIV epidemic in Black America. The team was able to disseminate The Black Church and HIV Social Justice Manual to Ms. Jarrett and members of the council.

Childhood obesity, healthy food access and reducing health disparities in communities of color have been battles that the NAACP health programs department has waged in both the policy and training arena.  This year, the department worked with  and Senior Fellow Dream Hampton to weigh in on a #FoodFriday Twitter chat about the importance of widening access to healthy foods and creating solutions for ending childhood obesity.   Specifically, the department has been working with NAACP State Conferences in Mississippi, Tennessee and New York, to create and map out strategic policy agendas.

Through Project HELP (Healthy Eating Lifestyles Physical?) health programs has administered mini grants to ten NAACP units so that they can create their own programs around healthy living—with an emphasis on physical activity and nutrition.

Civil Rights Advocacy Training Institutes (CRATI), known as regional conferences held between March – April offers an opportunity for  local units to travel within their respective region to participate in the Association’s key programmatic and advocacy agenda priorities. Conference participants are given information and statistics where we clearly expose the gaps between African Americans and other minorities to highlight the disparities and injustice. During this cycle the health department successfully trained 19 states and over 345 adults and 30 youths.

Lastly, the Health Programs Department will host the 2nd annual Day of Unity. The partnership around the 2nd annual “Day of Unity” has increased significantly compared to last year. The Day of Unity is designed to unite pastors nationwide on a specific day to preach from the pulpit and help build a movement that will inspire our communities to take action and put an end to the social injustices in the Black community. For this day, we have the endorsement from at least five senior faith leaders and over 70 pastoral partnerships representing 52 cities and 23 states. Learn more about this event  and find out if a faith leader near you is participating.

The NAACP Health Department will continue to drive the dialogue in the Black church on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, ending childhood obesity, and creating healthy communities.