It is hard to believe that we have celebrated 5 years of PRAISE already! Preventive health education Resulting in Action Inspiring Success for Everyone (PRAISE) is an innovative, evidence-based initiative that promotes better health and wellness among African Americans in Asheville City and Buncombe County, NC. It grew out of the work ABIPA was already doing through its regular work of promoting prevention through programming in area churches. Funding from Mission Community Investment gave us the support to take the partnership of ABIPA and UNC Asheville Department of Health and Wellness to another level of impact. We are immensely passionate about this initiative because nationally and locally, African Americans experience disproportionately high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. For the past five years, the PRAISE Initiative has provided leaders and members of African American and multicultural churches with information, education, screenings, motivation, and support, as they identify and address health challenges in their congregations. PRAISE has provided each church with customized help to educate members on healthier lifestyles and to improve their access to health-promoting environments. The incentive to participate in the programming includes the receipt of Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Honorable Mention awards, each with a monetary prize to be used toward health promotion. Almost $35,000 has been issued directly to churches to infuse into healthy programming, however the ultimate reward of better health for our communities is priceless.
We would like to say thank you to Mission Community Investments for funding this joint effort of ABIPA and UNC Asheville Health and Wellness Department. We are grateful for all of our health leaders and their dedication to rallying the troops, this year’s Health Ministry Leaders were Jackie Baker, Pastor Walter Bryson, Shirley Cox, , Shirley Hadley, Pamela Johnson, Eslinda Kemp, Cecila Lytle, Tekia Lytle, Navada McCoy, and Sharon West. Ultimately our congregation members have made these years such a success though their participation and support, without you none of this would have been possible. Thank you to our community partners that have supported programming: AARP(NC Mountain Region), Dementia Friendly of WNC, YMCA of Western North Carolina, Buncombe County Health and Human Services and Physicians from MAHEC. Our partnership with UNC Asheville has been a remarkable experience and as we look forward to continuing our joint efforts we have to acknowledge the priceless contribution of Ameena Batada, DrPH and UNCA Student Research Team of Sara Grace Hiller, Khadiya Ross, and Liyah Foye who have synthesized our data and story.
I would like to extend a special thank you to Kathey Avery, BSN RN the on the ground and in the trenches face of ABIPA for her tireless efforts of offering education and her heart to each participant and the collective.
The 5th year is a wonderful time to reflect on all of the hard work and how far we have come as individuals and a community. This journey may seem short to some, but the dedication has been invaluable and can never be understated. Ultimately as we continue to shift the culture of health as congregations and individuals that make up community, we look forward to the amazing things that we will continue to do together during beyond our 5th year milestone!
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.
III John 1:2.
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