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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

A.J. Williams: Helping Police, Educators Team Up for Regional Handle With Care Program

Handle With Care Fort Worth

As a child, A.J. Williams was exposed to domestic violence. Now a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas, Williams is making sure children like him are getting the support they need in school through the Handle With Care program, where police notify schools when they encounter children at a traumatic scene, so schools can provide support the next day. After COVID-19 derailed an idea to team up Fort Worth police and schools for a local Handle With Care program, Williams reinitiated plans with help from a Handle With Care action pack from Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. He trained police and school leaders about the program and brought regional education leaders to the table who helped create a region-wide notification system. Now police departments and schools in the ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat: How Schools and Police Can Partner to Support Students Exposed to Trauma

handle with care students exposed to trauma tweetchat 2022

Children exposed to violence, crime, or abuse still go to school the next day. They may be forced to skip homework, sleep, and breakfast. They may carry the burden of toxic stress that can interfere with their behavior and grades. However, schools are not aware. Fortunately, the “Handle With Care” program enables police to notify school districts when they encounter a child at a traumatic scene, so school personnel and mental health partners can provide appropriate trauma-sensitive interventions. Let’s use #SaludTues on May 3, 2022, to tweet about steps schools, communities, and healthcare professionals can start a Handle With Care program and take steps to become more trauma-sensitive. WHAT: #SaludTues Tweetchat: “How Schools and Police Can Partner to Support ...

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Watch Webinar: How to Work with Local Leaders to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

Decades of explicit and implicit racism in social, economic, and political systems have led to inequitable outcomes in communities of color with heavy burdens of toxic stress, disease, and premature death. That’s why leaders across the country are adopting formal resolutions to declare racism a public health crisis and committing to specific policy changes. We at Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio created to an action pack to help. On March 17, 2022, we are cohosting a webinar, “How to Work with Local Leaders to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis” with the Network for Public Health Law to share resources in our action pack to help you connect with local advocates of color, draft a resolution, start a conversation with local leaders, and build support for a ...

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Understanding Critical Race Theory

critical race theory

Discussing racial equity and anti-racism can result in some backlash because of the great divide in our country regarding if and how to examine structural racism in American history and institutions. For example, in September 2020, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning federal contractors from addressing “divisive concepts” and “harmful ideologies” related to racial/ethnic and gender discrimination in employee trainings. Although a federal judge temporarily blocked the executive order and President Joe Biden revoked it on his first day in office in January 2021, the nation was already divided on the concepts of systemic racism, including critical race theory, a critical theory that aims to examine and critique society. Thus, it is important to ...

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How State and Local Leaders Can Build on the American Rescue Plan to Implement the $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

American Rescue Plan Implement the $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

In November 2021, Congress passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to rebuild roads, expand access to clean drinking water and high-speed internet, and tackle climate change — with priority investments in Latino and other often left-behind communities. Although this bill adds new money to fix some transportation problems, it pours hundreds of billions into the same old highway programs that perpetuate those problems, like auto-dependence and dangerous roads. “Today’s transportation system works extraordinarily well for its original intended purpose, to build a national highway system, but fails to meet the climate, economic recovery, equity, and safety challenges of the present day,” according to the National Association of City ...

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How Can We Measure Transportation Insecurity?

transportation insecurity

Inadequate transportation can hurt a person’s social, economic, and health outcomes. But planners and policymakers have not had a good tool to measure transportation insecurity—a condition in which one is unable to regularly move from place to place in a safe or timely manner due to the absence of the material, economic, or social resources needed for transportation. So, in 2018, researchers from University of Michigan and others created a tool to explore transportation security modeled after the Food Security Index and based on interviews with families living in poverty. They call it the Transportation Security Index. In 2021, they validated the 16-question index using a nationally representative sample. “We hope [the Transportation Security Index 16] will be adopted ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 12/7/2021: Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Racism is a Public Health Crisis

The link between systemic racism and health inequities is undeniable. Health inequities among people of color arise from systemic racism, which has been and continues to be enforced by historic and present-day policies, laws, and practices at the local, state, and national levels. For example, past and present land use and transportation decisions perpetuate residential and school segregation which concentrates racial disadvantage and limits access to opportunity to stay healthy and thrive. Thus, local jurisdictions across the country are recognizing and addressing systemic racism through formal resolutions declaring racism a public health crisis. Through these resolutions, jurisdictions are committing to action to address underlying beliefs that fuel racism, transform ...

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Latino Health Champions for Hispanic Heritage Month

Latino Health Champions Healthier Generation

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Alliance for a Healthier Generation is sharing a series of stories about Latino health champions. These champions—Bianca De León, Alejandro Diasgranados, Mario Reyna, and Pia Escudero—have different backgrounds and interests. But they share a passion for creating health equity and a more just, equitable, inclusive, and healthy future for children and families. Read their stories! Bianca De León: Community-Building to Connect Kids to Positive Experiences Bianca De León grew up speaking both English and Spanish with her single mother in their community along the U.S.-Mexico border. She had a loving network of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great grandparents. Now, as a mother, she continues to forge these ...

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