Opportunity and Hope

I am an optimist. The work that I am involved with keeps me optimistic.  Even though current events suggest otherwise, I continue to believe there is always hope. I believe there is always hope for positive change.

As an optimist, I gravitate towards working with people on projects that focus on instigating positive change in the community. This is why I love being involved with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program and the Children of Inmates (COI) Program.

This year, I have had the opportunity to join another team of optimistic people.  I am a team member on the FIU HWCOM Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP Health Policy Analysis Academy as a Community Fellow. Last week, our research team traveled to the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California to meet with RAND public policy researchers to further our project.

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During the course of our three day trip, we were able to make presentations about our work to various RAND Corporation staff and graduate students. Dr. Pedro Greer, Jr., MD, presented the overall goals of the FIU HWCOM NeighborhoodHELP program model and his vision for transforming the medical profession.

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Dr. Luther Brewster talked in depth about The Academy’s research project and its focus on household-based care in light of behavioral/social determinants of health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the behavioral/social determinants of health as:

Factors that contribute to a person’s current state of health. These factors may be biological, socioeconomic, psychosocial, behavioral, or social in nature.

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Dr. Brewster explained how each household served through FIU HWCOM’s NeighborhoodHELP program is assessed individually and then collectively using these ten behavioral/social determinants of health during their initial intake process:

Nutrition
Housing
Income
Employment
Transportation
Psycho/Social/Cultural
Health Care
Technology
Legal
Life Skills and Education

Dr. Greer and Dr. Brewster believe FIU HWCOM’s NeighborhoodHELP program model is one step in a revolutionary approach to providing health care services and for training future physicians, nurses, social workers, and mental health care providers.

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My “micro” research project within the larger research project focuses mental health care access for children with incarcerated parents. Within COI, we have been been child-focused, yet have taken into consideration the household within which the child lives. Over the last ten years, we have considered the incarcerated parent very much a part of the household, impacting the household’s overall wellness even in their absence. I had the opportunity to present what we have learned within the COI program over the last ten years.

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While we were in California, the COI Summer Bonding Visits began.  Our summer theme, “4th of July Parade” has been a big hit.  The Sun-Sentinel traveled on a bonding visit and prepared this wonderful article about it, including a video with incarcerated dads who were participating with their families.  Take a minute to click the link, read the article, and watch the video:

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“A Joyful Day In Prison”

 

 

 

 

I am an optimist. The work that I am involved with keeps me optimistic.  Even though current events suggest otherwise, I continue to believe there is always hope. I believe there is always hope for positive change.

“For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭11:7‬ ‭NIV
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(Photo credits: Linda Freeman, Michele Abbott, and The Sun-Sentinel)

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