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Amanda Merck

Merck completed her MPH with a concentration in Physical Activity and Health. She curates content for Salud America! (@SaludAmerica), a Latino childhood obesity prevention project based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. She focuses on the latest research, resources, and stories related to policy, systems, and environmental changes to enhance equitable access to safe places for kids and families to walk, bike, and play.


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Articles by Amanda Merck

Health Workers Start Mega Baby Showers for Moms in Need



Kori Eberle calls early and steady prenatal care the “best gift a baby can receive” for healthy early childhood development. That’s why Eberle coordinates home visits, screenings, and parenting and health education for vulnerable women from pregnancy to their baby’s second birthday as part of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) Healthy Start program in San Antonio (63.2% Latino population). Eberle and Metro Health’s Healthy Start program want most of all to reduce disparities in the local infant death rate, which is higher for low-income, Latino, and African American families. Sadly, Eberle found that not enough moms-to-be know about their resources or get the help they need to ensure a healthy delivery and proper early brain ...

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An Analysis of Child Care Deserts by Zip Code in 8 States


Latino health early childhood development

Although research has shown the many health, social and emotional, and cognitive benefits of quality early child care and education, Latinos have the lowest participation in these programs. Why? Child care deserts may be the answer. Although affordability, work schedules, and waiting lists are also factors, location is often the first major consideration for families. Center for American Progress looked into the location of child care centers across eight states, which accounts for 20% of the population under age five. The authors define child care desert as a ZIP code with at least 30 children under the age of five and either no child care centers so few centers that there are more than three times as many children under age 5 as there are spaces in centers. See ...

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Streetsblog’s Sorriest Bus Stop Competition


Latino health safe routes equity

Two critical parts of every bus trip are the walk there and the walk back. Sadly, many streets are designed for cars, not families, making for some very sorry bus stops. Safe routes and safe bus stops are critical for people to access basic necessities, like schools, work, grocery stores, parks, healthcare, and other cultural and historical community resources. Streetsblog USA is calling attention to sorry bus stops during their 2017 Sorriest Bus Stop in America tournament. The goal is to motivate action from the streets and transit agencies who are responsible for designing and constructing the bus stops. You can enter the competition by submitting a photo of the sorriest bus stop with the exact location (preferably tagged in Google Maps) and a short description of what ...

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Head Start Partners with Technical and Community College


Latino health early childhood education

Latino children may have education disadvantages when starting kindergarten. Head Start, which is free for low-income families, may help to improve school readiness with curriculum to enhance children's language, pre-literacy, and social-emotional skills. In 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services Head Start passed new performance standards increasing the minimum program hours. This is great for kids and families, but a challenge for providers due to limited space. In Alexandrian, Minnesota, half-day classes could share the same facility, one in the morning and a second in the afternoon, but didn't have the space to offer full day programming for both classes. They needed more space. Jim Haugen, Head Start Supervisor approached Alexandria Technical and Community ...

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Azusa Unified Now Identifies as a Pre-K through 12th District



California educates about one in eight U.S. students. In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) into law, which is the most comprehensive school funding system in 40 years. The LCFF provides more equitable school funding with local flexibility and greater community engagement with the goal of reducing the achievement gap in education. Early child education provides the highest impact in preventing achievement gaps. Many families in California feel like they aren't being adequately served by local early child care providers and want school districts to step up and take responsibility for early child education. However, funding requirements and expectations are complex, and many school leaders don't understand what is available to them or ...

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Fruit Juice Banned in Primary Schools to Cut Obesity in Scotland


LAtino Health sweetened sugary beverages

Sweetened sugary beverages are the main sources of excess sugar consumption and are associated with decreased water, fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as increased risk for obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Parents in the Tayside area of Scotland expressed their concerns about the excess sugar given to toddlers in the form of fruit juice. In March 2017, more than 140 Scottish primary schools were banned from giving toddlers fruit juice. Water and milk will be served instead. “All local authorities have a duty to provide school meals that meet strict nutritional requirements, ensuring that pupils are offered balanced and nutritious school lunches," a Scottish Government spokesperson said according to one source. Barriers to healthy eating are not only ...

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Outdoor Recreation is Essential to the American Economy


Latino health recreation walking biking economy parks

Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets and fees ($51 billion), and nearly as much on snow sports ($53 billion) as on internet access ($54 billion), according to a 2012 report by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). OIA predicts that Americans spend $646 billion each year on outdoor recreation, which supports 6.1 million direct jobs and $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. Outdoor recreation includes gear, such as apparel, footwear, tents, and bikes; vehicles, such as boats, RVs, and motorcycles; and trips and travel. In many communities, it's outdoor recreation that provides steady employment. "Advancements in technical apparel, footwear and equipment are driving innovation and entrepreneurism, while ...

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World Breastfeeding Week 2017: Sustaining Breastfeeding Together


Latino health breastfeeding equity sustainability

Sustainable development is essentially about ecology, economy, and equity. We cannot achieve sustainable development without multi-level partnerships at all levels. World Breastfeeding Week 2017 is about sustaining breastfeeding together across four thematic areas: Nutrition, Food Security and Poverty Reduction Survival, Health and Wellbeing Environment and Climate Change Women's Productivity and Employment Breastfeeding is one conversation in getting us to think about how to value our health and wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other, and how to care for the world we share. Learn more about how breastfeeding is a component of sustainable development. Together, we can attract political support, media attention, and participation of young ...

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New Orleans Mayor to Address Climate Change Through Walking


Latino health climate change

New Orleans has a lot at stake when it comes to climate change. Among many strategies to reduce dependence on carbon-fired power and increase locally generated solar energy, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced plans in July 2017 to address climate change by redesigning regional public transit so 50% of trips are taken by modes other than driving, such as walking or biking. “It is not enough to plan for how we will adapt to climate change,” Landrieu wrote introducing the new climate action strategy for the city. “We must end our contribution to it.” Not only can improving sidewalks and bike lanes make it safer and easier not to travel by car, but making routes and public transit more relevant and useful can also address racial inequity and health ...

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How I Walk: A Campaign to Rebrand the Word Walking


Latino health disability inclusive

Walking is critical for accessibility. One-third of all American are not able to drive, either because they are too old, too young, too poor, or have some form of disability. People with disabilities are the only minority group you don't have to be born into. Meaning, at any time, any one of us could become part of this group due to injury or illness. The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) was founded in 1999 as a resource center on health promotion for people with disability. They launched a campaign in 2015 to rebrand the word walking. Walking is particularly important for the elderly, people with disability, and lower-income people who have fewer opportunities to participate in sports of formal exercise programs.  The How I Walk ...

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