Before the winter break, Ms. Angie Alaniz, CCHD Administrative Director, and Ms. Katy Nimmons, Director of CCHD’s National Community Health Worker Training Center, traveled to the School of Public Health (SPH) campus in McAllen. Katy spent the week with SPH and AgriLife faculty and staff who have partnered to implement the “Working on Wellness” (WOW) project in Hidalgo County. Angie joined Katy later in the week to meet with University of Texas Rio Grande Valley officials to discuss a potential joint project.
The WOW project will focus on improving access to healthy foods and developing safe, neighborhood options where Hidalgo County residents can be physically active. The project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in October 2014, is led by Principal Investigators Dr. Marcia Ory from SPH and Dr. Carol Rice from AgriLife. The project aligns with CDC’s aim to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending.
The WOW team met in McAllen to lay the foundation for project planning, implementation, and evaluation. Katy represented CCHD’s NCHWTC, which will be involved in the WOW project by providing community-based, culturally competent outreach and promotion related to physical activity and healthy food environments. Ms. Paula Saldana and Ms. Dinorah Martinez, current NCHWTC staff who are state certified Community Health Workers (CHW) and CHW Instructors, will contribute to the WOW project in addition to three new CHW members who are expected to join the NCHWTC team within the next month.
The NCHWTC team is excited to be a part of the new partnership between AgriLife and SPH which will address environmental strategies for obesity prevention. Katy notes that “this is a great opportunity to demonstrate both the effectiveness of the new partnership and to contribute to improved health outcomes for Hidalgo County residents.”
While in South Texas, Angie and Katy met with officials from the newly established University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) who had contacted the Center about conducting CHW certification training courses in Hidalgo and Cameron County. As a result of the meeting, the UTRGV has continued discussions with the NCHWTC about creating a CHW certification course with a special emphasis on behavioral health training. Katy emphasized that, “This partnership will build upon the training center’s history of collaboration with UT in South Texas. We have a long-standing relationship with UT-Brownsville. Most recently, they contracted with us to deliver a customized, in person CHW certification class to 13 UT Brownsville CHWs.”