ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) has received an award of nearly $3.5 million to be used over five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). REACH, which stands for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health, is a CDC-administered national program to remove barriers to health improvement caused by race or ethnicity, education, income, location, or other social factors. The NKFM will use the funds to creatively address preventable risk behaviors (e.g., poor nutrition, physical inactivity), to reduce chronic disease (e.g., hypertension, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes) among African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the Wayne County communities of Inkster, Wayne and Westland.
The NKFM’s program – REACH for the S.T.A.R.S. (“Sustained, Transformed, & Aligned Resources & Support”) – will address health disparities by working with community coalitions in Western Wayne County. Building on experience as a direct service provider, the NKFM will partner with the Inkster Task Force, Healthy Wayne and Healthy Westland, three successful community coalitions in the area. They will link people at risk for chronic disease to existing programs and resources and use their large network of community partners to improve low-income residents’ access to health care, healthy food, and active living.
Wayne County ranks last in health outcomes, with a higher proportion of minority residents with lower incomes and less education, factors that increase the risk for chronic disease. The NKFM’s strategies will focus on the following:
- Nutrition. Wayne County is the most food insecure county in Michigan. Even among those who do not have enough food, one in three is not eligible for food assistance programs. Improving access to nutritious food is a critical step in reducing the disproportionate rate of chronic diseases found in low-income neighborhoods.
- Active living, or finding ways to move more. This will include finding ways for people to walk or bike short distances to where they go frequently, such as school or work.
- Community-Clinical Linkages. Making sure that at-risk populations can find doctors and other healthcare providers who provide affordable health care, and increasing access to community health programs.
- Early childhood education. Training staff at day care centers and preschools in how to engage children in healthy eating and physical activity and creating environments that foster healthy lifestyles.
“For years, we have been involved in Inkster, applying other grant funds to do similar work. The REACH for the STARS grant will allow us to expand resources to neighboring Wayne and Westland,” states Charlene Cole, NKFM vice president and project director. “Our approach will make it easier for people at risk to improve what we already know are the important factors in maintaining health and preventing disease: healthy eating, active living and access to health care.”
In the first year, the NKFM will be strategizing with the community coalitions and other partners. The next four years will be spent supporting the activities and increasing the local residents’ access to programs and services. For more information, or to become involved with any of the coalitions, contact Sam Shopinski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 1-800-482-1455.