About the Author

Author Picture

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.


Connect with Amanda:
Twitter Link

Articles by Amanda Merck

#SaludTues Tweetchat 7/24: Walk 4 Change: Change Your Parks & Trails



Want to change your life? Walk. Walking can boost your health, the way you live, and your community. As a physical activity, walking changes your body physiologically, improving mental and physical health. As a lifestyle, walking in your local neighborhood and parks can enhance your social and environmental awareness. You'll see things you can’t see while driving. As a driver of community change, walking contributes to building a culture of health through peer-modeling and observational learning. You change your parks and trails simply by being there. Sharing what you see—good and bad—can encourage others to walk and advocate for sustainable, equitable change. Join us for a #SaludTues Tweetchat on July 24, 2018, to tweet about how to promote walking and its amazing ...

Read More

Take a Stand to End Over-Policing in Walking and Biking Initiatives



The Safe Routes to School National Partnership (Safe Routes) is raising awareness to end over-policing as a safety solution in walking and biking initiatives. Racial profiling by police, for example, threatens drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists of color. These Latinos and other minorities, who already face less safe roads and fewer places to walk and bike, deal with a greater burden of traffic and pedestrian violations, too. Safe Routes wants you to stand up for minorities by sharing on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. “As walk and bike advocates, we need to come together to protect people in communities made vulnerable not only by missing and poorly maintained bike lanes and sidewalks and inequitable policies, but also by over-policing,” wrote Holly Nickel, coalitions and ...

Read More

Salud America! Talks Childhood Trauma on The Preschool Podcast



Our own Amanda Merck recently joined HiMama’s The Preschool Podcast to talk about addressing childhood trauma in early childcare and schools to build better futures for Latino and all children. HiMama, which offers tools to help educators improve childhood development, hosts The Preschool Podcast every Tuesday with its co-founder and CEO Ron Spreeuwenberg and a guest. Merck, who curates content for Salud America! on early childhood development, joined podcast episode #103, Impacts of Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences, on July 3, 2018. Merck spoke about the critical formative years from 0 to 5 in a child’s development and how childhood trauma, like abuse and poverty, affect a child’s body and brain. However, early childcare educators are rarely trained to deal with ...

Read More

Heat Maps Help Hospital Workers Find Best Multimodal Commutes



Vehicles. Carpools. Bicycles. Public transit. Feet. What’s the best way to commute to work? For workers at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, new heat map technology is planning out their optimal commute route in hopes of saving people time and money─and increasing the use of multimodel transportation options that are good for health and the environment. The new technology, Modeify, is being used by Arlington Transportation Partners and Mobility Lab to help hospital workers learn multimodel commute options they may not know about. “Modeify makes it easy for commuters to see the health, financial, and environmental advantages of switching from driving their own car to sustainable transportation options,” according to Mobility Lab. How Modeify Works Modeify is ...

Read More

CDC: Latino Students are Less Active than their Peers



Teens need 60 minutes every day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity to reduce their risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Yet only one in four high school students (26.1%) met this recommendation, according to new CDC data. And the rates of physical activity were often worse among Latinos. Why? What can we do? The Data High school students in the U.S. are not on a good health trajectory, according to CDC’s new Youth Risk Behavior Survey released on June 15, 2018. The survey is part of the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The system monitors health-related behaviors, usually developed in childhood and early adolescence. These behaviors contribute to the leading causes of early death among youth and adults in the United States. Today ...

Read More

How a New Bridge Rebuilt Community Trust and Pedestrian Safety



Cam Juarez didn’t want people to be disappointed, again. Years ago, a city project failed to deliver a promised new pedestrian bridge over a dangerous waterway in the Rose Neighborhood (92% Latino) in Tucson, Ariz. It would have improved walking and bicycling safety and connected people to a park and a nearby elementary school. Rose neighbors were skeptical when Juarez, then the coordinator for Pima County’s neighborhood reinvestment program, asked them to pitch ideas for fundable improvement projects. But Juarez bridged leader-resident trust—and replaced a pedestrian bridge that resembled the rickety old one in Indiana Jones with an amazing new bridge. The Dangerous Waterway Most times, the Rodeo Wash is dry. But during thunderstorms and rainy seasons, the ...

Read More

New Action Pack: Make Your School Trauma-Sensitive!


John Hernandez Twitter

About half of U.S. children suffer abuse, poverty, parental incarceration and other traumas. These kids face deep physical and mental scars that impair development, learning, and health. How can schools support and help students dealing with trauma? The new Salud America! “Trauma Sensitive School Action Pack” is a free guide with coaching to help school personnel talk to decision-makers, build a support team, craft a system to identify and support traumatized students, and more! The Action Pack was created by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Salud America! Latino health program at UT Health San Antonio, with input from John Hernandez, who created a unique system to help traumatized students at East Central ISD in San Antonio. Get the Action Pack! The Action Pack ...

Read More

¡Por Vida! Program Makes Eating Out Healthier in San Antonio



Gilbert de Hoyos opened Barrio Barista because he enjoys serving coffee to West Side residents in San Antonio (67% Latino). He also likes to cook. So de Hoyos added a small menu. And he didn't want it full of unhealthy options, either. De Hoyos is among a growing number of eateries that have joined a city health program, ¡Por Vida!, that unites nutritionists with restaurants to promote healthier menu options. “San Antonio and especially the West Side have a reputation of not having healthy foods and I want to change that by cooking delicious foods that also support a healthy life," de Hoyos said. “It’s my way of giving back to the community." One of those options is his roasted vegetable tacos with remoulade sauce served on a corn tortilla, Kens5 reports. The ...

Read More

#SaludTues Tweetchat 6/19: Actions to Create More Trauma-Sensitive Schools and Communities



To become a productive adult, a child needs more than great academic experiences. Social and emotional learning experiences, for example, can instill responsibility, integrity, and justice in our youngest children. Schools, communities and healthcare professionals play a big role in addressing trauma and stimulating social and emotional development, which requires an understanding of how childhood trauma impacts kids’ brains, bodies, and behavior. We at Salud America! created an Action Pack to help your school take steps to become more trauma-informed/sensitive to reduce absenteeism and misconduct and help students become healthy, productive members of society. Let’s use #SaludTues on June 19, 2018, to see Action Pack and tweet how schools can become trauma-informed to ...

Read More