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Neighborhoods without fresh food stores, schools without playgrounds, unsafe housing, and polluted air all make good health a daily challenge for millions of city dwellers. NYAM works in partnership with local, state and national public health and community leaders to tackle the root causes of avoidable illness, disability, and death. Our work includes community-based programs and state and national policy advocacy. We place a special priority on our own East Harlem community.
NYAM's work to engage community members is enhanced by our varied partnerships. With funding from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the DASH-NY Policy Center and Coalition engages multiple state and community sectors in the fight to end the epidemic of obesity in New York State, working to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. DASH-NY offers community leaders training and technical assistance on how to make policy changes that will help prevent obesity. NYAM is also working with the NYSDOH on the New York State Prevention Agenda, an initiative that identifies statewide public health priorities and asks communities to work together with the Department and other providers to achieve measurable goals.
NYAM's research unit, the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies (CUES), identifies opportunities to improve the health of urban populations and reduce health disparities, works with communities to translate those findings into interventions, and then develops and evaluates interventions with the greatest potential for scale-up and sustainability. Current studies and interventions address HIV and other infectious diseases, substance abuse, mental health, the role of social determinants of health, and seasonal and pandemic flu vaccinations. To address the persistent problem of low vaccination rates among minorities and people living in poverty, NYAM provides free seasonal influenza vaccination clinics at community-based organizations in East and Central Harlem and spreads awareness about influenza in those communities through Project VIVA. NYAM also works with the Harlem Community & Academic Partnership (HCAP) to identify social determinants of health and implement community-based interventions to improve the health and well-being of Harlem residents. HCAP addresses issues including obesity, prisoner reentry into communities, and vaccinations for hard-to-reach populations in East and Central Harlem.
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NYAM’s community-based participatory research provides critical evidence for the effectiveness of preventive interventions, both on individual behavior and on creating change in the environments of communities that make it easier for people to make healthy choices and address the “upstream” causes of chronic disease including neighborhood conditions, access to healthy food and safe recreation, and socioeconomic status. The national health care reform law passed in 2010 represents a paradigm shift in the focus of U.S. health policy, with unprecedented policy and financial incentives to support personal and community-based prevention. This shift would not have been possible without the accumulating evidence of researchers like those here at NYAM.
NYAM encourages healthy lifestyle choices in schools through multidisciplinary programs that incorporate curriculum development, parent workshops, staff training and student activities. Through Healthy Eating Active Living: A School and Community Initiative, NYAM works with teachers and administrators in East Harlem and Bronx public schools to establish environments and habits that promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity. NYAM’s award-winning skin health curriculum, The Wonders of Skin: Looking Good, Being Healthy, developed in partnership with the American Skin Association, has been disseminated nationally, reaching more than 4.1 million K-12 students throughout the United States. NYAM also trains staff at United Neighborhood Houses member agencies across the city who work with teens to promote healthy eating and physical activity, healthy sexuality, and mental and emotional health.
A new NYAM report identifies opportunities that build on both the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) and New York’s ongoing efforts toward improving the health of its 19 million residents.
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