HSC SPH, together with National Public Health Week, focuses on community: protecting, connecting, thriving

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

National Public Health Week logoNational Public Health Week is a time each year to celebrate the essential services of public health professionals who work tirelessly to promote their communities’ health, safety and wellbeing. National Public Health Week is held each April, sponsored by the American Public Health Association.

Students, faculty and staff of the School of Public Health at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth celebrated during the week of April 1-7, with a number of events focused on underserved communities, in alignment with APHA’s 2024 theme of “Protecting, Connecting and Thriving: We are all Public Health.”

The events, coordinated by HSC’s Public Health Student Government Association, also fit with the new SPH strategic plan, IMPACT 2030: Commitment to Community.

“Our research and professional services initiatives, as defined in our strategic plan, are designed to be both responsive and relevant to the needs of communities,” said Dr. Shafik Dharamsi, SPH dean.

Public Health Week pic 1“Our commitment to community extends to our partnerships. We seek out, honor and apply community knowledge and expertise in advancing health equity and innovation. Together, we strive to create impactful solutions that leave no one behind.”

MPH Public Health Leadership student and PHSGA president Folasade Fashina led this year’s planning and activities for the week. Fashina said that this year’s theme and the new SPH strategic plan are both in step with her personal mission and future career goals.

Civic Engagement

A civic engagement workshop that looked beyond the ballot box was one of the week’s events, discussing the history of democracy, presenting a timeline of key points in modern American democracy, sharing other voting models that could be employed, and looking at direct action and mutual aid. Resources on voter registration, reproductive health and other educational materials were also part of the program.

Public Health Week pic2Community Building and Care

To further highlight the week’s theme, Fashina created material on utilizing community building and community care as protective and influencing factors for community health.

Climate Change, Indigenous Sustainability

“Climate Change: Indigenous Sustainability Talk” was another HSC Public Health Week event. Alaskan Yup’ik and Samoan youth climate activist Charitie Ropati spoke on the importance and value of centering indigenous perspectives in climate action and sustainability work. She also discussed the impact of climate change on indigenous communities.

Ropati, a 22-year-old education and environmental activist, was named as a Champion for Change by the Center for Native American Youth and has been nationally recognized for her advocacy efforts. She is the recipient of the 2023 World Wildlife Fund Conservation Leadership Award.

Complex Needs: Care and Innovations

Care for individuals with complex needs was also discussed during Public Health Week, with a presentation on new tools and innovations by Rebecca Koppel from Camden Coalition. This community-based nonprofit organization works to improve care for people with complex health and social needs in New Jersey and around the U.S. Koppel was joined by a patient with complex care needs, who shared her personal experiences and perspectives.

Reproductive and Sexual Health in Underserved Communities

In another of the week’s events, panelists from the Fort Worth AIDS Outreach Center, Texas Equal Access Fund and Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas discussed reproductive and sexual health care in Texas and among underserved communities.

Disability and Emergency Preparedness

The week also included a talk on disability and emergency preparedness by medical sociologist Dr. Heather Sue Rosen of the University of Georgia.

We are the Future

The final day of HSC’s Public Health Week focused on the future of public health, with a social media campaign – #WeAreTheFutureofPublicHealth – that provided an opportunity for SPH students to share their public health goals, motivations and aspirations.

All activities and events helped to reinforce the American Public Health Association’s message that public health promotes and protects the health of all people and their communities, and that together, “all of us are helping to create the healthiest nation.”

From HSC Newsroom - Our People by Sally Crocker