UAB chooses Orrville for next health program

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, June 14, 2018

The University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB)’s  Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) recently chose Orrville as a site for its Building Healthy Communities program.

The first Orrville Coalition meeting was held Thursday night at the Farmer’s Market. Tiffany Osborne and Celida Garcia of UAB both appeared and spoke to the city residents.

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MHRC is grant funded and addresses the health disparities of minorities in undeserving populations locally, regionally and nationally.

The program’s purpose is to raise awareness and foster community engagement in a public health issue. The coalition’s factors are assessment, capacity building, planning, implementation and evaluation.

“We listen to the communities, then go back and develop a program,” Osborne said. “It’s important to the communities we serve. We teach the kids about healthy nutrition and the kind of foods to eat.”

In the Greater Birmingham area alone, MHRC made an impact. The program has helped over 1,300 low-income African-Americans and Hispanics in 20 different schools. Former First Lady Michelle Obama visited the program in Birmingham six years ago.

Orrville Farmer Market owner Judy McKinney is grateful for MHRC choosing Orrville as one of its cities.

“When you’re talking about a healthier lifestyle, this is where it starts,” McKinney said. “This is the only place in a 15-mile radius where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. We’re buying from local farmers and helping the local economy. We either sell the fruit and vegetables or cook them here.”

The highlight of Osborne’s discussion was the social determinants of health and its nine points: socioeconomic status, education, physical environment, social support, poverty, racial segregation, employment, access to care and other factors.

“It’s the conditions in the environments which people are born, live learn, work and play,” Osborne said. “You get to know people and learn their needs.”

The residents’ vision for a healthier lifestyle included having their own library, internet access, a walking trail and improved security. Many Orrville residents complained about driving to Selma for online access. Osborne said the program will look into attaining those goals.

The next meeting is scheduled for July 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Farmer’s Market.