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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

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition



On November 12, 2018, the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Lack of physical activity is linked to approximately $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10% of premature mortality, according to the report. Since 2008, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans have served as the primary voice of the federal government for evidence-based guidance and recommendations for health professionals and policymakers on how everyone can improve their health through regular physical activity. The new Guidelines are an important part of a complex and integrated solution to promote health and to reduce the burden of chronic disease ...

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The Midterms: Voters Approve Big Public Transit Improvements



During the 2018 midterm election cycle, U.S. voters passed 17 of 20 public transportation ballot measures—two remain undecided. Over the past two decades, Americans have voted in favor of public transportation more than 70% of the time, according to Josh Cohen, campaign director at the Center for Transportation Excellence. Earlier in 2018 during the primary elections, voters passed 13 of 16 measures supporting public transit; during the 2017 general election, voters passed seven of eight measures; and during the 2016 general election, voters passed 33 of the 49 measures. Elected leaders at the local and state level are getting the hint and increasingly addressing public transit issues while campaigning. “These candidates know that public transportation is an issue that ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 11/13: 2nd Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans


Two Young Girls Playing On Swing In Playground

Walking and other physical activities are vital for health, regardless of weight. However, physical activity levels among Latinos are low, particularly among women. Since 2008, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans have served as the primary voice of the federal government for evidence-based guidance and recommendations for health professionals, schools, and policymakers on how everyone can improve their health through regular physical activity. In 2016, the process to develop the second edition of the guidelines began. Salud America! followers also spoke up and shared their comments. On Nov. 12, 2018, the 2nd Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, will be released. Join #SaludTues on November 13, 2018, at 1:00 PM EST to tweet about the Second ...

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Wintermission Competition to Increase Social Interaction and Physical Activity


Mom and son playing at park on cold winter day.

Does your city want to embrace the winter, rather than merely endure it? Apply for Wintermission! Wintermission will coach three U.S. cities to plan, pilot, and implement creative solutions to increase social interaction and physical activity among children, newcomer families, and other vulnerable communities in public spaces during the coldest, darkest months of the year. Applications, offered by nonprofit 8 80 Cities, are due Nov. 29, 2018. “Building a culture of public life outside in winter also helps build a culture of public life in all seasons,” according to the 8 80 Cities website. Improving Social and Physical Activity in Winter Fewer people spend time outdoors in the winter, which contributes to lower rates of physical activity and social ...

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School Strategies to Support Immigrant Students, Families


Male High School Student Talking To Male Latino Teacher.

Immigrants are a part of American society, regardless of ongoing political battles. Schools play a big role in embracing and accommodating the unique socio-emotional needs of immigrant students and their families, well beyond academics. But not all school personnel are equipped to respond to these needs. Fortunately, recent guidelines from the National Dropout Prevention Center can help you and other teachers, administrators, and staff at your school understand and better meet the social, economic, and emotional needs of immigrant students and families. “Meeting the needs of such diverse immigrant child and family situations requires knowledge, commitment, and emotional energy on the parts of school administrators, teachers, and other school personnel,” according to the ...

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John Hernandez & Team Win Award for Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools


John Hernandez san antonio ec isd trauma award

John Hernandez cares so much about students who experience trauma, such as neglect, that he started a committee and a system to identify, track, and support these kids and prevent drop-outs at East Central ISD in San Antonio. We at Salud America! were so inspired we nominated Hernandez and the committee for the 2018 Crystal Star Award. Now they've won! Hernandez and his committee, called EC Cares, received the Crystal Star Awards of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention, and Prevention in October 2018 from the National Dropout Prevention Center at their conference in Columbus, Ohio. Every year, the Center brings national recognition to outstanding individuals and programs making significant contributions to the advancement of dropout prevention. Hernandez and EC ...

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Report: Latino, Black Youth Far More Obese than Peers


US map youth obesity rates

Nationwide, 20.6% of Latino youth and 22.5% of Black youth have obesity compared to 12.5% of white youth, according to a new data report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The new data feature obesity rates among youth ages 10-17 nationally and from each state from the 2016 and 2017 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), along with analysis conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Five states have Latino youth obesity rates over 30%. No states have White youth obesity rates over that mark. “Far too many young people in this country are facing increased chances of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, all due to a preventable condition … black and Latino youth are still more likely ...

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Bicycling to Build Community Connection, Wellness


Brandyn joined Bici Co through Earn-A-Bike in 2016, and now he's employed at the shop and passing along his knowledge and skills to the next crew. Source: BiCi Co. Facebook

Bicycling shops went extinct in Hartford, Conn. (43% Latino), a few years ago. That’s why, in 2015, the Center for Latino Progress teamed with Hartford Public Schools and Capital Workforce Partners to open BiCi Co.—short for Bicicleta y Comunidad—a community bike shop cooperative run by students. The shop soon became more than a place to get a bike. It transformed into a hub for community connection, civic engagement, and better health, according to Mobility Lab. How Did They Stimulate Community Connection? Many people don’t feel an emotional connection to or a sense of membership in their community. Those people are less inclined to take action to improve their own health, according to a 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey. Community connection can spur ...

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