The Links, Incorporated’s mission for the Health and Human Services facet is to promote and facilitate programs that support the maintenance of good health and the elimination of chronic health disparities in communities of color through education, health advocacy, and optimal utilization of health resources. Community education about health risks is crucial and The Links, Incorporated can play a significant role in providing it.
The National Childhood Obesity
Overview of our National Childhood Obesity Initiative programs
Health and Human Services presented a “Wellness Day” with (37) 6th graders. The purpose of the program was to increase awareness and heighten understanding surrounding the multi-dimensional issues that contribute to obesity in children and their families. The students learned about “better” food choices, nutrition, and many exercise and relaxation techniques. Healthy homemade snacks were prepared afterwards, and all students enjoyed them. Parents and teachers also participated in this event.
Heart Links to Heart Health
Overview of our Heart Links to Heart Health Programs
For the past two years, Health and Human Services participated in several projects for Healthy Heart month. We serviced students from the Bridgeport and Norwalk schools. There were over 70 students ages 13-16. Our first year, we presented “Make Life Sweet—Not Your Drinks.” Students were taught the health risks linked to high intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages. Additionally, we discussed how sugar-sweetened beverages are now the single largest category of caloric intake in children at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Students learned why drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages is better for the body, as well as how to reduce sugar intake and meet the American Heart Association recommendation.
Our second year we presented “making healthy food choices”. Students were presented with healthy food choices, as there has been an increase in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and stroke in ethnic communities. Students learned that obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity are all risk factors that can be modified. Additionally, our trainer assisted students with hands -on CPR training. Students were motivated and engaged. After the conclusion of the presentation, we invited all students and teachers to join us for healthy snacks. Lastly, all students were given Heart Association stress balls.
National Oral Health Initiative
Overview of our National Oral Health Initiative
For the past 2 years, we have addressed children’s oral health using Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program to teach our youth about proper oral care.
We serviced several Bridgeport schools including Geraldine Johnson School, Ceaser Batalla School and the Claytor School. Each participating child from all schools received a complete dental screening in approximately two minutes. With the support of our volunteer dental professionals, children ranging from 4 to 12 years of age all received free dental check-ups, treatment referrals (if needed), and learning materials that included a tube of Colgate kid’s toothpaste, a Colgate kid’s toothbrush and brushing instructions.
With the aid of the Colgate team and our dental professional volunteers, we screened 627 K-6 grade students. Each student received a summary of their exam, including referrals for follow up treatment, plus, a ‘treat bag’ of dental products and tips for preventive care.
National Mental Health Initiative
Overview of our Mental Health Initiative programs
For the last 2 years, we acknowledged National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. We partnered with the Southwest Connecticut affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Union Baptist Church to jointly present “Sharing Hope: Understanding Mental Health”. The purpose of the forum was to raise awareness about mental health issues in the African American community. The presentation was facilitated by two individuals directly affected by mental illness issues, Dr. Gary Rhule and a young man currently living with schizophrenia. They shared their experiences and perspectives and the hope and realities of recovery. The audience, consisting of more than 45 participants, learned about treatment and available support. It was a positive program and was received very well.