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It's a well documented fact - your gender, income level, racial/ethnic background and the community you live in are all closely tied to your health.
Two different Oakland residents, who live in the same neighborhood, but are different races, face different health risks and may even receive different levels of health care (even from the same doctor). This phenomenon is known as health disparity.
As one of the most diverse cities in the country, Oakland also has some of the most acute health disparities. Last year, a team of activists, health care providers and public health professionals came together to form One Love - a community health promotion group. Their mission is two-fold: to both study and confront the root causes of health disparities in the city. Right now, the group focuses on the leading causes of death for West Oakland's estimated 23,000 residents.
Heart Disease • Diabetes • Cancer • Injuries and Homicide • Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
One Love Interns are working with a Seattle, Washington-based, group to bring a Hip Hop Green Dinner to West Oakland Middle School. Hip Hop Green Dinners are vegetarian dining experiences geared towards urban youth and young people who identify with hip hop culture.
According to La'Shay Morris, an intern for One Love and a student at San Francisco State University, a green dinner "is an opportunity to provide a healthy organic meal for urban youth who are disproportionally effected by social determinants of health."
The dinners are designed to be a perfect combination of information and entertainment. By breaking bread and sharing information in a relaxed and entertaining environment, the Hip Hop Green Dinners help youth make the connection between their diet, lifestyle and their health.
West Oakland’s Green Dinner is scheduled for this Friday, Nov. 12 and is open to West Oakland Middle School students and their families.
Another One Love Project is "Lovin' Livin' Longer" - described as a grassroots approach to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive West Oakland community members. From March through May of this year, One Love interns and staff led community members in piloting a series of life style modification activities including guided neighborhood walking tours, stress reduction groups and People's Grocery sponsored cooking groups. Additional funding is sought to expand the program to include Kijiji Grows’ first ever Aquaponic Horticulture Therapy Garden for participants.
This summer, the three co-founders of One Love were selected to participate in a nationally-recognized executive leadership program designed to tackle racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Mahedere Solomon, Michele Bunker-Alberts and Jumoke Hinton-Hodge are three of only 34 individuals from 16 health care organizations from around the United States to be selected for the Disparities Leadership Program 2010-2011.
This program is a project of the nation’s first, hospital-based disparities center, the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. The center has worked with several leading health plans across the country (Aetna, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Florida, among others) to develop strategies to identify and eliminate disparities.
“In our efforts to prevent the perpetuation of health disparities in Oakland, One Love needs to understand the root causes of the existing inequities," said co-founder Mahedere Solomon said. "The Disparities Leadership Program is providing us the tools to collect granulated data specific for our community and join the coordinated nation effort to eliminate health disparities starting in our own back yard."
More info can be found at One Love's Facebook Page.