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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

#SaludTues 5/14: State of Latino Housing, Transportation & Green Space


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Where you live matters for health. However, Latinos face unaffordable housing, unreliable public transportation, and a lack of green space, which limits access to health-promoting assets. To drive solutions, Salud America! will unveil a new research review, “The State of Latino Housing, Transportation, and Green Space,” at the #SaludTues Tweetchat at 1 p.m. ET May 14, 2019. The new research review will cover the latest data on how differences in housing, transportation, green space opportunities contribute to health inequities among Latinos. The review also highlights strategies and policies to improve neighborhood health equity, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to achieve the best health possible. Join #SaludTues at 1 p.m. ET May 14, 2019, to tweet about the ...

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Largest Land Owner in Atlanta Opens Green Space to the Public


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Children and families in underserved communities have limited to access to green spaces and parks. However, one of the highest costs for creating a park is land acquisition. So, the largest land and property owner in Atlanta (4.6% Latino) —Atlanta Public Schools—is launching a new pilot program to open their green spaces to the public outside of operating hours. Atlanta’s Need for Parks The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit, ranks the largest 100 cities in the U.S. by how well those municipalities are meeting the public need for parks. Atlanta ranks 43rd on that list. Only two-thirds of the population live within a ten-minute walk of a public park. In Minneapolis and Minnesota, however, 97% of the population can reach a park in a ten-minute walk. Fewer ...

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Phoenix Children’s Hospital: Creating a Culture of Bike Safety for Latino and All Kids


Injury prevention specialist, Juan Tarango created a six-week, hands-on bike safety course for fourth grade students in Phoenix, AZ.

Juan Tarango of Tempe, Arizona, has been an avid cyclist for over 30 years. For him, it’s about exploring, exploring his city, state, country and even other countries. He loves to see kids ride bicycles, having fun and getting physical activity. But he hated seeing how many kids show up with bike-related injuries at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital ER where he worked. “One kid─wasn’t going fast, wasn’t doing tricks─falls, hits his head, and ends up with life-changing brain injury,” Tarango said. Tarango wanted to help. He wondered: What could he do to teach Latino and all kids bicycle safety behaviors, and thus reduce  bike-related injuries? Children, Bicycling, and Injuries Bicycling is good for your health. For kids, it can help develop muscle ...

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San Antonio Declares May Trauma-Informed Care Awareness Month


Dr Colleen Bridger speaking about opiod task force in Aug 2017 with Bexar County Judge Nelson Woff and City of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg Source William Luther San Antonio Express-News.jpg

San Antonio has had an epic two years promoting trauma-informed care. The nonprofit Voices for San Antonio launched Early Childhood Training Workshops. East Central ISD started trauma-informed support for students. San Antonio police notify schools when kids experience traumatic events. The city itself, spurred by health director Dr. Colleen Bridger, created its first-ever coordinator for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and started a consortium for citywide trauma-informed care Now the City of San Antonio Mayor and City Council and the Bexar County Judge and Commissioners Court are expected to approve a proclamation during the first week of May to declare May as Trauma-Informed Care Awareness Month. “Through May, we will have ceremonials, proclamations, press ...

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San Antonio Health Director Gets First City-Funded ACEs Coordinator


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Dr. Colleen Bridger knows the devastating effects of childhood trauma, from risky behavior to bad grades, to even chronic disease. Bridger saw many childhoods ruined by abuse, poverty, and other trauma in her 20 years running three health departments and a childhood research/advocacy group in North and South Carolina. Health departments rarely coordinate with schools, healthcare providers, police, the justice system, and family support groups to address and reduce the impact of childhood trauma. Bridger wanted to change that. Since taking over as head of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department in 2017, she has worked to create a network of coordinated trauma-informed care for children and families facing adversity, even creating city’s first-ever job dedicated solely ...

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15 Examples of Health Involvement in Complete Streets


Cyclist riding the green bicycle lane

The safety of roads and sidewalks impacts everyone. Although Complete Streets initiatives are traditionally led by a transportation or public works sector, the public health organizations have played a role in communities across the country. A new report from the University of Chicago’s Institute for Health Research and Policy provides key strategies from public health agencies, advocates, and practitioners in 15 U.S. jurisdictions who have engaged in Complete Streets-related initiatives in their communities. Why Complete Streets? Complete Streets initiatives aim to create more equitable transportation systems by providing affordable, convenient, and accessible modes of mobility for all users. This includes individuals who rely on walking, biking, and public transit as their ...

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Colorado Reconsidering School Discipline for PreK through Second Grade


Elementary school kids arrive at school from the school bus

Colorado (21.5% Latino) students have faced high rates of disciplinary action for years. In 2018, nearly 6,000 preschool through second grade students were suspended or expelled from schools in that state. That’s why state leaders are pushing to make stricter standards for expelling and suspending young students. Harsh Discipline is Troubling Ineffective school discipline policies disrupt learning and harm a child’s future, according to EdSource. This kind of correction can also possibly trigger traumatic stress, reinforce unconscious biases, and hinder opportunities to address the causes of challenging behavior. Young students behave in challenging ways. The classroom setting and school schedules can prompt defiant behaviors. Colorado state legislators realize the ...

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Tell Texas Leaders: We Want Safe Streets and Zero-Fatality Goal


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One person is injured every 2 minutes and one killed every 2.5 hours on Texas roads. Texas (39.4% Latino) is the eighth-most dangerous state for people walking. Latinos and people of color, people in low-income neighborhoods, and older adults are in the most danger when walking. Unfortunately, it can take decades to create safer roads if there is no political will. That’s why Vision Zero Texas is asking Texans to sign a petition for safer neighborhood streets and send a letter to leaders of the Texas transportation system requesting a zero-fatality goal. Click here to sign a petition asking state leaders to allow cities to lower speed limits. Click here to send a letter asking transportation leaders to prioritize road safety to end traffic deaths. Vision Zero Texas will ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 4/23: Achieving Health Equity Through Law & Policy



Health disparities exist because unjust laws, policies, and practices have shaped the physical, economic, and social environment over many generations. This creates inequitable opportunities for education, jobs, housing, and transportation. Law and policy are essential tools to reduce health disparities, which particularly affect Latinos and other communities of color that face more poverty and less opportunity than communities with more political and economic power. Individuals and groups with political, financial, legal, and social power can ensure that laws, policies, institutions, and investments do not intentionally or unintentionally benefit some at the expense of others. Join #SaludTues at 1 p.m. ET on April 23, 2019, to tweet about legal and policy strategies that ...

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