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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

In Aftermath of a Shooting, This School Leader Is Building a Positive School Climate for Nevada Students


Malich speaking on the Truancy Diversion Program in May 2018. Source: Nevada 8th JD Court

On the night of Oct. 1, 2017, a shooter opened fire at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. He killed 59 people, injured 500 more, and traumatized thousands of kids and families. For Tammy Malich, it was another wake-up call on the path to a positive school climate. Malich, assistant superintendent at Clark County School District in Nevada, already ushered the district toward restorative justice—addressing the mental and emotional roots of student behaviors instead of immediately punishing students—to improve classroom success. But the shooting highlighted the kind of trauma students may experience at home or in the community, which can burden learning and attendance in school. Malich wanted Clark County schools to be better prepared to help traumatized students. She ...

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What Health Professionals Need to Know about Transportation and ‘Level of Service’


How Measuring Vehicle Miles Traveled Can Promote Health Equity

Do you know how roadways are graded? Most transportation indicators grade based on the level of motor vehicle traffic on a road, with little consideration for people walking, bike or taking transit, and vehicle travel. This leads planners to design car-focused roads that neglect transit and non-motorized travel, which is counterproductive to social, environmental, and health goals. Using level of service (LOS), for example, to assess road performance tends to expand roadways and increase vehicular speeds to benefit cars and trucks only. This ends up enabling more vehicle travel and reducing feasibility of walking, biking, and busing. That’s why five early-adopter cities in California transitioned away from a narrow focus on moving as many cars as fast as possible, to a more ...

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#SaludTues 11/5/19: Measuring Transportation Impacts for Health, Equity and Sustainability


#SaludTues

The methods used to measure and analyze the impact of transportation projects matter for health, equity and sustainability. Vehicle delay, for example, is a poor measure of transportation impact and incorrectly equates low levels of auto delay with mobility and preservation of the environment. Yet, many regions and states rely on vehicle delay to determine which projects get funded and expedited. Measuring the amount and distance of vehicle travel rather than delay encourages infrastructure for transit and non-motorized travel and facilitates mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD) and infill development. Measuring vehicle miles traveled can help cities reach climate, equity, health, and sustainability goals. Let’s use #SaludTues on November 5, 2019, to tweet about ...

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14 Things Latinos Should Know About the 2020 Census


census-2020-latinos-should-know-door-to-door

How important is the 2020 Census? Well, the results will determine political power, representation in Congress, and funding for schools, hospitals, roads, and social services in your community for the next 10 years. Here are some Q&As that emphasize the need to count Latinos and all people! 1. Why Is There a Census? The U.S. Constitution requires the government count everyone living in the country regardless of race, ethnicity, or citizenship status. The Census Act of 1790 created the first census. The government has conducted it every 10 years since to determine a population count, not a citizenship count. “The data collected affect our nation’s ability to ensure equal representation and equal access to important governmental and private sector resources for all ...

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Does Your State Ban Salary History Inquiries?


salary history ban

Inequities in pay follow women from job to job. Employers that request an applicant’s salary history─a long-time standard practice to set compensation for new-hires─perpetuate these gender pay inequities. “Relying on salary history allows a new employer to continue underpaying a woman who faced a pay gap and lost wages due to bias or discrimination at a previous job,” according to a 2018 report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). One method to close the gender pay gap is to ban employers from relying on previous or current salary information when setting pay for new employees. Closing the gender pay gap is good for physical, mental and social health. However, less than half of states have such bans. Find out which places have banned salary ...

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10 Actions to Integrate Social Care into Health Care


Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation’s Health

Your health depends on the social conditions where you live—like stable housing, safe transportation, and health food. But the health care system often overlooks these social conditions in favor of medical interventions. To improve the nation's health, health care leaders should integrate social care into health care delivery. “Integrating social care into health care delivery holds the potential to achieve better health outcomes for the nation and address major challenges facing the U.S. health care system,” according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). Policymakers, health system leaders, and other stakeholders can achieve this integration through 10 key actions. 5 Goals to Integrate Social Needs into Health ...

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Many Families Can’t Afford Child Care, Even with Government Help


Child care and preschool are necessities for working families

In every state, paying for child care continues to strain family budgets, and government subsidies aren’t helping enough with the cost, according to new fact sheets. Even when families can afford it, child care can be hard to find. That’s why the new fact sheets, created annually by the Center for American Progress (CAP), highlight child care prices, gaps in funding and access, and wages of child care workers─as well as policies that could address these inequities for Latino and all families. “Comprehensive early learning policies such as capping the amount families pay for child care, implementing universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, and ensuring all eligible children receive child care subsidies would provide enormous benefits to families and state economies,” ...

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Report: Transit Agencies Can Partner with Community, Advocates to Address Homelessness


transit police homelessness

Although violent crimes on the Los Angeles County (48.6% Latino) Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) are rare, riders complain the high number homeless individuals makes them feel unsafe. In a 2016 survey, 29% of former riders told Metro they stopped taking transit because they felt unsafe, according to the Los Angeles Times. The next year, Metro increased spending on law enforcement and security by 37%. However, police presence alone is not enough to address perceptions of safety. “We cannot and should not arrest our way out of the problem,” said Jennifer Loew, Metro’s director of special projects. That’s why Metro paired law enforcement officers with social workers as part of their homeless outreach program. Transit Agencies and Homelessness Transit systems ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 9/24/2019: How to Use Data to Promote Health Equity


HEalth Equity Report Card

Disparities in chronic disease, injury, and premature death contribute to worse health outcomes, decreased productivity, and increased direct and indirect healthcare costs for minority racial/ethnic populations and people with low socioeconomic status. Inequities in housing, transportation, environmental issues, and access to healthcare, mental health, healthy food and active spaces contribute to these disparities. But we can’t address these inequities if we don’t have local data to show the way. Data like the new Salud America! Health Equity Report Card can identify health inequity issues in your county, compared to the state and nation, and help you build a case toward solutions. Let’s use #SaludTues on September 24, 2019, to tweet about how you can use data to make ...

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