UNC Asheville partners with ABIPA, African-American churches, to promote health

Press release from UNC Asheville:

Promoting exercise, encouraging healthier eating, and increasing participation in health screening programs among members of Asheville’s African-American community are the goals of a new program undertaken jointly by UNC Asheville, ABIPA (the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement) and many area churches. The new program is supported by a $25,000 grant from the 2015 Community Health and Benefit Investment Program of Mission Health.

Called “PRAISE” (Preventive Health Education Resulting in Action Inspiring Success for Everyone), the program seeks to expand the number of health ministries at local African-American churches, and strengthen these programs through expanded health screenings, increased healthy food offerings at church gatherings, and more church-based opportunities for congregants to be physically active.

“Through this community-driven intervention research project, we hope to contribute to reducing health disparities in Asheville,” says UNC Asheville Assistant Professor of Health and Wellness, Ameena Batada.  “We also will measure outcomes and critically assess the program, so future efforts can be further improved.”

Batada and her co-investigator, ABIPA Executive Director JeWana Grier-McEachin, hope that this collaboration will become a model for promoting congregational change.  “Sometimes churches just need that extra encouragement to keep making health promotion a priority, and PRAISE provides that incentive and support,” says Grier-McEachin.

The idea for the PRAISE program grew out of ongoing discussions and collaboration among UNC Asheville’s Health and Wellness Department, ABIPA and a number of African-American churches. ABIPA is providing guidance, workshops and health screenings; UNC Asheville faculty are providing technical advice and consulting, as well as supervising undergraduate student researchers in conducting needs assessments and data gathering; churches are a key social hub and educational resource for many African-Americans in Asheville.

Participating churches are planning their activities and beginning to promote them during January and February, with programs getting into full swing beginning in March. With 25 churches expected to participate, PRAISE will reach more than 1,000 parishioners.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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