School of Public Health receives grant for community health project

Fighting obesity in South Texas through projects that intersect public health and urban planning
July 1, 2019

The Texas A&M School of Public Health was recently awarded funding to engage in policy, systems and environmental strategies to address environmental determinants of obesity in South Texas.

The “Working on Wellness: Promoting Physical Activity through Tactical Urbanism” project received $10,000 to engage community partners and implement a pop-up demonstration project that will serve as an experiential learning opportunity for students at the Texas A&M South Texas Campus in Hidalgo County.

Evelia Castillo, MPH, CHWI, co-principal investigator, has enlisted Ipek Sener, PhD, of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to serve on a committee to help guide the development and implementation of the learning hub and pop-up demonstration project and help teach students how to promote active transportation.

The School of Public Health was able to apply for the grant as one of two finalists for the Harrison C. Spencer Award for Outstanding Community Service, which is presented annually by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health  (ASPPH). This award recognizes schools committed to improving public health in their community.

The School of Public Health received the award in recognition of its work in Texas A&M Healthy South Texas, a collaborative effort between the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Texas A&M AgrilLife Extension Service to improve the health outcomes of residents in 27 South Texas counties. Working on Wellness is affiliated with Healthy South Texas and focuses on improving the transportation environment of residents in Hidalgo County.

This grant will be used to encourage projects that intersect with public health and urban planning and continue to support Healthy Texas, the overarching expansion program of Healthy South Texas. Regents and Distinguished Professor Marcia Ory, PhD, co-principal investigator, is especially pleased with the opportunity to establish a collaborative practice learning hub at the McAllen campus. She noted the many benefits of this grant.

“It will engage interprofessional academic and community partners to address a specific community need,” Ory said. “Further, it will provide students with experience working with other disciplines within a community setting.”

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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