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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

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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Regulating Autonomous Vehicles Must Address Safety for Everyone, Total Emissions

Regulating Autonomous Vehicles Must Address Safety for Everyone, Total Emissions

Pedestrian fatalities have increased 50% since 2009. Autonomous vehicles—those driven by automated driving systems rather than a human—are often suggested as a solution by politicians, planners, even some safety advocates. But with our nation’s struggle to regulate the automobile industry and failure to protect people walking, many worry about the decades-long shift to autonomous vehicles because cars will still dominate roads and road design. Moreover, many worry that electric driverless vehicles district from the social, economic, and health issues cities are facing today. “Public health will benefit if proper policies and regulatory frameworks are implemented before the complete introduction of [autonomous vehicles] into the market,” according to David Rojas-Rueda ...

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UPDATE: Health Equity Report Card Covers Social Vulnerability, COVID-19

Health Equity Report Card Covers Social Vulnerability, COVID-19

We have updated our Health Equity Report Card to include place-based information on your county’s Social Vulnerability Index Score and COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations. The Salud America! Health Equity Report Card, first launched in 2017, auto-generates Latino-focused and local data with interactive maps and comparative gauges, which can help you visualize and explore inequities in housing, transit, poverty, health care, food, and education. You will see how your county stacks up in these health equity issues — now including social vulnerability and COVID-19 — compared to your state and the nation. Then you can share the Report Card with your local leaders to advocate for healthy change! Get your Health Equity Report Card! Why We Need to Consider ...

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Zo Mpofu & Dakisha Wesley: Forging Alliances to Declare Racism a Public Health and Safety Crisis

Zo Mpofu and DK Wesley Forge Alliances to Declare Racism a Public Health and Safety Crisis

Zo Mpofu believes protecting the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a moral responsibility. That is why it alarmed Mpofu, a human services program consultant for Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services in North Carolina, that local black women are 3.8 times more likely to lose their baby in the first year of life than white women. Also, Dakisha “DK” Wesley, assistant county manager in Buncombe County, worried that black people accounted for 25% of the jailed population, despite being 6.3% of the local population. Mpofu and Wesley believe these are the results of structural racism. That is why these government employees collaborated with cross-sector partners to urge Buncombe County leaders to pass three resolutions declaring racism a public ...

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How Has COVID-19 Impacted Physical Activity for Youth?

COVID-19’s Impact on Youth Physical Activity

Loss of physical activity can harm physical, emotional, and social health. Amid COVID-19 illness and isolation, some youth and families have experienced a loss of physical activity, according to a new report from Safe Routes Partnership, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: COVID-19’s Impact on Youth Physical Activity and Safe Routes to School.” The report explores research and expert perspectives on COVID-19’s impact on physical and emotional health to paint a holistic picture of how physical activity has changed during COVID-19. The report also has recommendations for supporting physical activity strategies and centering physical, emotional, and social health in equitable pandemic recovery plans. Our team at Salud America! was honored to contribute to this report ...

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