Category: Saving Lives

Saving Lives Dinner Meeting Reviews the Accomplishments and Announces Future Directions


By Sophia Xiong
CCBP Volunteer

At a year-ending appreciation dinner on December 14, 2017, the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) and its Saving Lives community partners concluded another successful year and discussed future initiatives, according to Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, CCBP director of programs and partnerships for community engagement. About 25 University and community members attended the dinner at the Bryant Conference Center.

The dinner marked the end of the fifth year of the faith-based wellness program and was the occasion for outlining new initiatives for the next five years. “Building on the foundation of a fruitful past, Saving Lives is ready to move forward for the next five years,” Prewitt said. “Our plans call for the creation of a Saving Lives Academy, which will build on what we have learned from our research and from our members’ input. These new measures will be the next step in the Saving Lives network’s goal of connecting faith with healing.”

Prewitt, who has an Ed.D. in adult, higher and community education from Ball State University, joined the Division of Community Affairs in the fall of 2017. She brings with her a background in higher education, including serving as dean of Instructional and Student Services at J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College. Prewitt also is active in community engagement and local church ministry in the Macedonia CME Church in Greene County and the Martin Mission CME Church in Hale County.

Since 2012, Saving Lives has worked with an increasing number of local churches to promote various health related events such as health screenings, cooking demonstrations, and workshops for the mind, body and spirit.

Until Prewitt joined the division, Carol Agomo, director of community and administrative affairs, led the Saving Lives program. At the appreciation dinner, Agomo offered this review of the program: “As I look at what we have accomplished over the past five years, we have advanced the Saving Lives trilogy to provide health-related information, increase knowledge about healthier eating, and promote healthier physical activities.” Agomo was awarded a certificate of appreciation for her work with the organization.

Prewitt offered her conceptualization of how churches participating in the new Saving Lives Academy would receive support for semi-annual health screenings, church health profiles, health-expert speakers, and instruction in health education. In addition to these resources, the Saving Lives Academy will also provide quarterly training modules.

In return, the designated churches would be responsible for conducting three distinct health related activities throughout the year; preparing monthly activity reports; and recruiting new churches to join the Saving Lives Academy. The dinner meeting concluded with an evaluation activity designed not only to provide feedback about what Savings Lives Academy currently means to the community but also to provide ideas for its future.

The next steps in establishing the design and purpose of the Saving Lives Academy include the establishment of an advisory group in early 2018, which will include the participants at the dinner and members of the pioneering Saving Lives churches.

College Hill Baptist Church Holds Health Screening as Part of Saving Lives Program

Tracey Webster of HealthMed, Inc., discusses health screening results with College Hill Baptist Church member Gary Heard.
Tracey Webster of HealthMed, Inc., discusses health screening results with College Hill Baptist Church member Gary Heard.

As part of the ongoing Saving Lives program, members of the College Hill Baptist Church were part of a health screening on August 24. This UA and community project has the purpose of making healthy living part of a church member’s faith practices.

A scripture-based approach was purposely selected because of its compatibility with the existing religious and cultural norms of citizens in Alabama and the nation. The initial target audience includes leaders and members in Alabama churches. The audience will expand to include leaders and congregational members from synagogues and mosques located in rural Alabama and eventually across the nation.

Saving Lives provides the opportunity for faith communities to apply their beliefs to improving their health and wellness.

The initial churches of what will be a larger program in the area are College Hill Baptist, Plum Grove Baptist, and First African Baptist.

UA students, faculty and staff are conducting the program in cooperation with local church leaders and congregations.

Undergraduate students Zeb Akers and Lauren Tredeau work the health screening desk at kCollege Hill Baptist Church. Being screened is church member Anthony McMullen.
Undergraduate students Zeb Akers and Lauren Tredeau work the health screening desk at kCollege Hill Baptist Church. Being screened is church member Anthony McMullen.

Saving Lives Celebrates First Year with Appreciation Dinner

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

When Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for community affairs at The University of Alabama, envisioned the Saving Lives program, he not only wanted a program that would promote healthy living in Alabama, but also a faith-based program that could be a model for all kinds of communities, urban and rural, throughout the nation.

"What better place to offer a health education program than within faith communities," Pruitt said at the Saving Lives Appreciation Dinner attended by a large crowd at the Bryant Conference Center on December 6.

Pruitt and several speakers used the occasion to look back on the first year's progress and forward into 2013.

For the past year, three Tuscaloosa churches, involving several hundred members of all ages, have participated in the program by taking advantage of a curriculum and professional speakers to offer workshops where members of the congregations are taught how spiritual health can contribute to physical health.

The Rev. Tyshawn Gardner expressed his enthusiasm about the program and how his Plum Grove Baptist Church congregation, along with First African Baptist Church and College Hill Baptist Church, will continue their participation in 2013.

Gardner said the program has taught his church family "how important our health is in service to our Lord. We are blessed and honored to be a part of it. From day one, it's been an exciting time. We look forward to those Wednesday nights of information sharing and participation."

Georgia White and Mary Brooks are the advocates, or program coordinators, for First African Baptist Church. "We have learned a lot together," said White, a retired nurse. "It is important for us, especially as African Americans, to know what is going on with us," acknowledging that African-Americans lead the country in high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

"This initiative has just shown us ways to counteract that and to help us along the way," White said. She praised the University for organizing the program and for selecting the three churches as partners.

Dr. Rebecca Kelly, the director of Health Promotion and Wellness at UA, will be the first speaker of 2013 for each group. "As we move forward and think about Saving Lives, I'd really like you to think about what impact this has had on our lives," said Kelly, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist and one member of a team of University researchers working on the project.

In February and August health screenings will be conducted at each church. "The screening is the first step to making a positive lifestyle change," said Dr. Martha Crowther, associate professor and director of clinical psychology at UA who is also a member of the research team. "That's why the February session is really important. It's where we conduct the first baseline health screenings. Six months later, another health screening will allow participants to see their progress.

"You can see midway how the changes are impacting your scores," said Crowther. "By completing your health screenings, you will gain insight of your health risks." In addition to personalized health information based on their scores, participants will benefit from the health care knowledge that can be shared and taught to generations to come.

"We want to use this data as a model for the country," said researchers Dr. Pamela Payne Foster, the deputy director of the Community and Rural Medicine Institute for Rural Health Research at UA. "Health disparities are major issues, particularly for African- Americans, and particularly in the South."

In Alabama more than 400,000 people suffer from diabetes, while 200,000 more have the disease and do not know it. Hundreds of thousands more suffer from heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases affecting African Americans disproportionately.

"We are focusing on really addressing chronic conditions," Foster said. "These conditions are preventable and we know they are. We know if we knew what to do, we would do it. We know that the strategies to address these issues are complex, but we have to really try to get at them to delay health deterioration and to address the problems that people confront in their day to day lives "¦ to get them to take charge of their health."

Foster said faith-based approaches are especially important in reaching African-American communities. "There's power in the church. There's power particularly in the black church," Foster said. "So, we are really excited that this can be a model for other places in the country."

A full schedule of activities has been planned for 2013, said Carol Agomo, program coordinator in Dr. Pruitt's office. Participants will be reminded via email, telephone and the Saving Lives website, http://ccbp.ua.edu/saving-lives/.

College Hill Baptist Church Playing Key Role in Saving Lives Program

By Kirsten J. Barnes

The April 2011 tornado may have torn down the walls of College Hill Baptist Church, but it did not break the spirit of the parishioners who worship there.

"The word of God teaches us that our body, mind and soul belong to Him," said the Rev. Kelvin Croom, pastor of the church temporarily meeting at University Church of Christ. "Our body is a dwelling place for his holy spirit and as a result of that we need to take care of it. One of the tricks of the devil is that he destroys the body; and if he destroys the body, he's won."

College Hill is one of three area churches, which recently partnered with the University of Alabama's Center for Community-Based Partnerships for a new initiative called "Saving Lives."

Saving Lives is a Community Affairs signature health care initiative. In the development of this wellness outreach program, community members and researchers collaborate to combine knowledge and action for social change to improve community health, reduce health disparities and increase health literacy.

Ms. Tera Glenn, of Alabama Cooperative Extensions, demonstrates a healthy recipe option for members of First African Baptist Church.

Since January, the members of College Hill, Plum Grove and First African Baptist churches have been meeting once a month to discuss ways to become healthier physically as they grow spiritually.

In November, College Hill hosted Alabama Extension Agent Tera Glenn, whose work focuses on human nutrition, diet and health.

As the holidays approach, Glenn advised those attending the workshop not to make their stomachs the holiday wastebasket.

"Just because it's there, doesn't mean you have to eat it," Glenn told a group of about three dozen, advising them against snacking and sampling. "If it's enough to save, then save it. Don't let your stomach be the trash can."

Glenn said too often during holidays, people eat throughout the day and those who prepare the meals, nibble on broken cookies and food that stuck to the pan. In addition, she advised against perpetuating the "happy plate is a clean plate" phenomena.

"Get smaller plates," Glenn said. "Watch your portion size and exercise portion control."

The program targets minority groups as a way to help them combat poor eating habits with spiritual reinforcements so they can understand that God wants them to be more active so they can live fuller lives.

Croom knows first-hand the dangers of overeating. He changed his eating habits a year ago.

"I'm a prefect example, because I was killing myself by eating. Since a year ago I've lost right at 82 pounds," Croom said. "So, I know the value of good nutrition. This program was very timely."

At College Hill, Marcia Bailey and Jahnese Hobson are advocates for the program.

Bailey, who is a registered nurse, understands the importance of educating others about healthy lifestyles.

"When I looked at the information I thought it was something we could use," Bailey said of the Saving Lives curriculum. "Being a nurse, I felt it was something that would enlighten the church and help the membership."

So far, Saving Lives has attracted close to 50 people each month.

"We're working on our participation, but we're getting there," Bailey said. "We're still encouraging the members to come out to the meetings that we have."

Many people only think about diet changes for short periods of times, such as trying fade diets. Glenn advised against those and said instead people should opt for lifestyle changes.

College Hill Associate Pastor David Richardson said although he suffers from no known health problems, he still appreciates the information.

"Praise be to God, I'm completely healthy," Richardson said.

So far he's learned about diabetes, and the effects of age on weight gain.

"They also talked about how walking twice a day for 15 minutes can do so much for your cardiovascular system," Richardson said. "I have also implemented more discipline in my diet. In any area of life discipline is the key. The word disciple means disciplined one. The Bible tells us that you have to balance the physical with the spiritual."

The program is the brainchild of UA's Vice President of Community Affairs Samory Pruitt, who wanted to come up with a way to reach those who live in rural Alabama and inform them about things they can do to improve their quality of life physically and spiritually.

The three churches currently participating are part of a pilot program that will later spread to rural areas of Alabama.

"Somebody has got to say something, or we're going to eat ourselves to death," Pruitt said. "If you know better, you can do better."

Tameka Conwell has attended most of the meetings. She realizes she needs to make changes in her family's meal plan, but admits old habits are hard to break.

"I attended the session on stress and anxiety," said Conwell, adding that she has implemented some of the suggestions. However, she said implementing new portion sizes during the holidays would be difficult. "Follow up with me after the holidays and we'll see how I did."

College Hill Baptist Church Playing Key Role in Saving Lives Program

By Kirsten J. Barnes

The April 2011 tornado may have torn down the walls of College Hill Baptist Church, but it did not break the spirit of the parishioners who worship there.

"The word of God teaches us that our body, mind and soul belong to Him," said the Rev. Kelvin Croom, pastor of the church temporarily meeting at University Church of Christ. "Our body is a dwelling place for his holy spirit and as a result of that we need to take care of it. One of the tricks of the devil is that he destroys the body; and if he destroys the body, he's won."

College Hill is one of three area churches, which recently partnered with the University of Alabama's Center for Community-Based Partnerships for a new initiative called "Saving Lives."

Saving Lives is a Community Affairs signature health care initiative. In the development of this wellness outreach program, community members and researchers collaborate to combine knowledge and action for social change to improve community health, reduce health disparities and increase health literacy.

Since January, the members of College Hill, Plum Grove and First African Baptist churches have been meeting once a month to discuss ways to become healthier physically as they grow spiritually.

In November, College Hill hosted Alabama Extension Agent Tera Glenn, whose work focuses on human nutrition, diet and health.

As the holidays approach, Glenn advised those attending the workshop not to make their stomachs the holiday wastebasket.

"Just because it's there, doesn't mean you have to eat it," Glenn told a group of about three dozen, advising them against snacking and sampling. "If it's enough to save, then save it. Don't let your stomach be the trash can."

Glenn said too often during holidays, people eat throughout the day and those who prepare the meals, nibble on broken cookies and food that stuck to the pan. In addition, she advised against perpetuating the "happy plate is a clean plate" phenomena.

"Get smaller plates," Glenn said. "Watch your portion size and exercise portion control."

The program targets minority groups as a way to help them combat poor eating habits with spiritual reinforcements so they can understand that God wants them to be more active so they can live fuller lives.

Croom knows first-hand the dangers of overeating. He changed his eating habits a year ago.

"I'm a prefect example, because I was killing myself by eating. Since a year ago I've lost right at 82 pounds," Croom said. "So, I know the value of good nutrition. This program was very timely."

At College Hill, Marcia Bailey and Jahnese Hobson are advocates for the program.

Bailey, who is a registered nurse, understands the importance of educating others about healthy lifestyles.

"When I looked at the information I thought it was something we could use," Bailey said of the Saving Lives curriculum. "Being a nurse, I felt it was something that would enlighten the church and help the membership."

So far, Saving Lives has attracted close to 50 people each month.

"We're working on our participation, but we're getting there," Bailey said. "We're still encouraging the members to come out to the meetings that we have."

Many people only think about diet changes for short periods of times, such as trying fade diets. Glenn advised against those and said instead people should opt for lifestyle changes.

College Hill Associate Pastor David Richardson said although he suffers from no known health problems, he still appreciates the information.

"Praise be to God, I'm completely healthy," Richardson said.

So far he's learned about diabetes, and the effects of age on weight gain.

"They also talked about how walking twice a day for 15 minutes can do so much for your cardiovascular system," Richardson said. "I have also implemented more discipline in my diet. In any area of life discipline is the key. The word disciple means disciplined one. The Bible tells us that you have to balance the physical with the spiritual."

The program is the brainchild of UA's Vice President of Community Affairs Samory Pruitt, who wanted to come up with a way to reach those who live in rural Alabama and inform them about things they can do to improve their quality of life physically and spiritually.

The three churches currently participating are part of a pilot program that will later spread to rural areas of Alabama.

"Somebody has got to say something, or we're going to eat ourselves to death," Pruitt said. "If you know better, you can do better."

Tameka Conwell has attended most of the meetings. She realizes she needs to make changes in her family's meal plan, but admits old habits are hard to break.

"I attended the session on stress and anxiety," said Conwell, adding that she has implemented some of the suggestions. However, she said implementing new portion sizes during the holidays would be difficult. "Follow up with me after the holidays and we'll see how I did."

First African Baptist Welcomes Saving Lives Program

By Kirsten J. Barnes

Graduate Student

Center for Community-Based Partnerships

In January the University of Alabama started Saving Lives, a faith-based partnership to increase health literacy and to support residents in rural and urban Alabama in attaining higher levels of health and wellness through the use of prudent health practices and scripture.

In addition to using theologically sound doctrine to support health care information and recommendations, the program helps area churches facilitate workshops on topics such as talking to your doctor, weight management, being familiar with and understanding medications, preventing and managing diabetes, and cooking healthy nutritional meals.

The Rev. Richard L. Morgan, pastor of First African Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, said he is pleased to offer the program to his congregation.

"It's great because it co-mingles what we try to do in our ministry," which Morgan calls "a holistic approach. We already had a wellness ministry going, but Saving Lives helps us to reinforce that part of the program. Because it's a scripture-based, it helps my parishioners take the word of God and apply it to their health issues."

First African Baptist pastor, the Rev. Richard L. Morgan, stands in the sanctuary of his church, which is one of three Tuscaloosa churches participating in a pilot faith-based health program.

 
The university purposely selected a scripture-based approach because of its compatibility with the existing religious and cultural norms of the state and nation. The initial pilot audience includes leaders and members in Tuscaloosa African American churches.

For Morgan's congregation of 500 people, he decided to use participation as a guide to measure the successfulness of the program. So far, his expectations have been met.

"Our goal was to get at least 50 participants each time. We've reached that goal," Morgan said. "We've gotten diversity in age and we've gotten some men and women. So, I'm pleased with what we've done. That shows how many people are really willing to get involved. Sometime with new ventures it's slow starting off, but this already seems to be building."

So far, First African has focused on reaching its members. However, Morgan said once they incorporate the information into its outreach ministry, his church will take the Saving Lives message to community centers and housing developments throughout the community.

"We're going to start to incorporate the program into our outreach ministry," said Morgan, adding that his congregation conducts monthly community outreach as an attempt to reach non-members.

This is exactly the kind of snowball effect that UA Vice President for Community Affairs Dr. Samory T. Pruitt hoped would occur when he envisioned the Saving Lives program.

"UA researchers and local pastors believe a combination of faith-based practices in collaboration with outreach and engagement scholarship strategies can contribute to an improvement in the overall health of Alabamians, reducing the risk of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, hearth disease, cancer and stroke," said Pruitt.

The program will attempt to shed light on health care challenges facing 62 million rural citizens in the United States and the 2 million Alabamians who are dealing with a variety of health care and health insurance problems.

Ms. Tera Glenn, of Alabama Cooperative Extensions, demonstrates a healthy recipe option for members of First African Baptist Church.

 
Already, Morgan sees how the information is assisting his congregation, especially those battling high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, obesity and illnesses common to African Americans.

"Ministry should impact the life of the person. You've got to be able to reach the people where they are," Morgan said. "They want Christ, but they are dealing with other issues as well. Everyone does their six month or annual check-ups, but having this reinforcement every month helps."

The goal of the program is to reach as many churches and congregations as possible by providing them with a curriculum and the tools necessary to spread the word about health living.

"We want to empower faith-based leaders and congregational members to engage in activities that will enhance their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being," Pruitt said. "A second objective is for the University of Alabama to conduct research that will answer questions on the type of engagement strategies that can help eliminate health disparities among minorities, as well as rural and inner-city residents. A third objective is to implement strategies in rural communities to increase the overall health literacy of the program participants."

Christopher Spencer, director of Community Development for the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, hopes that by starting with First African Baptist, College Hill Baptist, and Plum Grove Baptist, UA will gain insight into how best to expand the program into additional congregations.

"Researchers will utilize the best practices from the first three churches to develop a strategic plan to include other ethnic, religious and geographic groups to include congregational members from synagogues, mosques and diverse faith-based organizations located in Alabama and across the nation," Spencer said.

Morgan believe the program has great potential for expansion, but thinks the program will work best for congregations led by forward-thinking ministers with outreach and teaching philosophies.

"Every ministry is different," Morgan said. "Some pastors may not see it as a need. For certain congregations it may not be a good fit, based on the pastor's guidance. But for those congregations that are more health conscious it will be an added tool, especially for those servant leaders who try to be role models. For them, this would be ideal."

"This program will give church leaders and university researchers an opportunity to complete the assessment on the pilot churches and to make any necessary adjustments prior to implementing the initiatives in rural communities," Pruitt said.