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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

Through Shared Ownership, Community Land Trusts Can Help Retain Housing Affordability


Community land trust

The prospect of homeownership remains out of reach for many Latinos as incomes fail to keep up with rising property values. The community land trust model is a shared ownership model designed to protect people, neighborhoods, and businesses at risk of gentrification and displacement due to development and the upward pressure of urban land markets. This model can be used for housing, small businesses, agriculture, and community resources. There are roughly 277 community land trusts across the US, many addressing housing instability. Community land trusts could play an important role in supporting economic recovery during and after COVID-19. Unfair Urban Land Markets Leave Many Families Behind Property rights in America were not created equal. They have excluded Latinos, ...

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9 Amazing Latino Contributions to Urban Space, Presented by James Rojas


James Rojas via CNU.org latino urbanism

Since James Rojas was child, he has been fascinated with urban spaces like streets, sidewalks, plazas, storefronts, yards, and porches. He started noticing how spaces made it easier or harder for families, neighbors, and strangers to interact. For example, his urban space experience got worse when his Latino family was uprooted from their home and expected to conform to how white city planners designed neighborhood streets for cars rather than for social connection. “[Latinos] are a humble, prideful, and creative people that express our memories, needs, and aspirations for working with  our hands and not through language,” Rojas said. “However, there are no planning tools that measure this relationship between the body and space. Therefore, our mobility needs can be ...

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Webinar 11/18/20: How to Address Transportation Equity in Latino Communities


Latino urbanism transportation

Latinos in the U.S. are more likely to not have a vehicle than their white peers, and Latinos in urban areas are more likely to rely on public transit. This is great for the environment and physical health. It’s also a great way to save money. But many cities are car-centric. They lack safe alternatives to driving─ frequent transit, bike lanes, walkable neighborhoods─making it harder and more dangerous for Latinos to get to work, school, and other places. That is why Vision Zero Network is conducting a webinar, “Understanding and Addressing Transportation Equity in Latino Communities in the U.S.,” at 4 p.m. ET Nov. 18, 2020, to share transportation equity solutions from Salud America!’s recent Latino-focused transportation reports. Register for the ...

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9 Ways to Avoid COVID-19 as You Make Holiday Plans


9 Ways to Avoid COVID-19 as You Make Holiday Plans

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are a wonderful time to express your gratitude and share food with the people you love most in this world. However, the 2020 hits just keep coming. Family gatherings are still not safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC discourages in-person family gatherings for the holidays. Instead, you can safely deliver/swap traditional dishes to nearby familia, ship gifts, and use a video conference to stay connected. “It is the holidays, but it’s also a global pandemic. Safety has to be a priority over tradition,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Salud America! Latino health equity program at UT Health San Antonio. See our “Juntos, We Can Stop COVID-19” bilingual campaign to encourage you─juntos/together─ to do ...

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Challenge the Status Quo and Push for Investments in Prevention, Equitable Opportunity for Health and Wealth


Health communities economic prosperity

The status quo for health in America is expensive and failing. Medical care is costly for individuals, communities, businesses, and employers. But the U.S. ranks only 27th in life expectancy out of 35 Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. It also has the highest prevalence of obesity, with even worse rates among Americans of color. That’s why one of Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams’ priorities is to highlight and reverse inadequate investments in disease prevention and inequitable economic opportunities in our communities. Last year, Adams launched the “Community Health and Economic Prosperity” or “CHEP” initiative. “CHEP is the concept that community health and economic prosperity are inextricably linked,” according to the ...

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Report: 1 in 5 U.S. Latino, Black Children Have Obesity


two girls in class school physical activity to fight obesity

Children of color continue to struggle with obesity. Obesity rate continues to be significantly higher for Latino (20.7%) and black children (22.9%) than for white children (11.7%) ages 10-17, according to the new State of Childhood Obesity report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Obesity—and other chronic diseases—are more prevalent among those of color and those in poverty because discriminatory systems have disinvested in healthy policies and basic resources for them. In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is worsened by obesity, it is more critical than ever to prioritize children’s health. Latino children and young adults account for over 40% of the COVID-19 deaths among people ages 0-24, according to the CDC. To prioritize children’s ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 10/20: How to Address Transportation Equity for Latino Communities


How to Address Transportation Equity for Latino Communities

Latinos face many transportation inequities that impact their ability to build health and wealth. This is due in part to a lack of diversity among decision makers, planners, and engineers and ethnocentric policies, projects, and investments that reinforce the auto-centric status quo. Ultimately, past and present planning practices have failed to be inclusive of Latino needs, failed to represent historic and existing inequities, and failed to responsibly evaluate and measure impacts, targets, and performance. Two new reports from our year-long workgroup of planners and planning scholars provide recommendations to prioritize Latino experiences and needs in the planning process; address inequities and promote racially/economically mixed communities, and modify metrics used to ...

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Blame the Transportation System, Not the Pedestrian


Transportation for America "fixed" this NHTSA graphic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is celebrating pedestrians by designating October as the first-ever Pedestrian Safety Month and creating a playbook with social media materials to raise awareness. This is good, because pedestrians deserve safety on a road, parking lot, or crosswalk. But it’s not all good. NHTSA is mostly focused on individual pedestrian safety, as opposed to systemic policy changes. This is a form of pedestrian-blaming. By blaming the pedestrian, like in victim-blaming or justifying inequities, Pedestrian Safety Month actually distracts from efforts to address the very transportation systems that endanger pedestrians in the first place. We are excited to see that Transportation for America’s Twitter thread that modified NHTSA ...

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On Streets of Injustice, Here’s How We Move toward Transportation Equity for Latinos


transportation equity workgroup findings (2)

Latinos face many transportation inequities. Years of unjust planning practices have cut them off from opportunities for health and wealth. To promote transportation equity for healthier communities, our leaders must ensure that transportation policies and practices are inclusive of Latino needs, address existing disparities, and are responsibly evaluated and measured, according to expert recommendations in two new reports from Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. The two reports stem from Salud America!’s year-long workgroup of U.S. transportation and planning leaders that explored all aspects of equity in transportation for Latinos, thanks to an Innovation, Equity and Exploration grant from the Voices for Healthy Kids network at the American Heart Association. "These ...

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