In the Illinois Community
Community Health Educators or Promotores de Salud are not doctors and they are not nurses...
They are normal members of the community who see the need to inform their community on the health topics that affect them and what it means to be healthy. They are individuals who have an interest in health topics and want to help their neighbors understand what resources are available to them, and how to take advantage of those resources. They go door to door offering home visits, lead small or large group sessions, and participate in other community events offering the services and health information Mano a Mano Family Health Resource in Lake County provided to them. Mano a Mano wanted to provide access to health and wellness services and information to the immigrant and underserved families of Lake County, many of which are Latino. One way they offer this information is through their Promotores de Salud program.
Mano a Mano builds trust between their organization and the community by offering one-on-one culturally sensitive guidance through the promotores de salud. Meghan McKenna de Mejia, Mano a Mano Executive Director, explained that understanding how clients’ cultures deal with health helps break barriers of misinformation. Another thing that sets them apart is that all of the promotores speak Spanish.
One of the promotoras is Yamel Azcoitia. Yamel will strike up an informative conversation about diabetes and breast cancer with anyone who will listen to her. She offers health tips to people in grocery store check-out lines, the playground and even those she bumps into on the street.Thanks to a $30,000 grant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois presented to Mano a Mano, the resource center’s Promotores program will be able to train more volunteers like Yamel and purchase more supplies and materials.
The Health Education Program provides the information needed to understand health topics and live a healthier lifestyle. Sample topics include Nutrition, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Women’s Health, Cancer, Depression, and Dental Health.
The grant BCBSIL presented to Mano a Mano will also help grow other community health programs, including its quarterly group seminars on health issues important to its clients. A recent seminar focused on the rules of the Affordable Care Act.
“The investment from BCBSIL and other partners enables us to reach the most vulnerable in our communities and provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services and resources,” says Megan McKenna de Mejia. “Our partnership with BCBSIL is key to realizing our vision of a healthy and sustainable community.” Are you making a difference in your community? Tell us how in the comments!
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