Author: phameuscampaign

City of Birmingham and Birmingham City Schools working to improve child reading ability

By Angela Wilson | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Page pals is a reading initiative created in a partnership between the City of Birmingham and Birmingham City Schools (BCS) with the purpose of improving student’s reading ability, specifically third graders. This initiative is in response to the Alabama Literacy Act, a law that when fully implemented, will prevent a third grade student who is not reading on grade level from moving up to the fourth grade, essentially being “held back” in third grade. Although parents and students will have the ability to go through a remediation process to improve student reading ability, the law is of great concern as only 56% of 3rd grade students in Birmingham City Schools are effectively achieving grade level reading as measured by the 2021 State of Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP).

The City of Birmingham is supporting BCS on-going efforts to improve student reading ability by asking members from the local community, non-profit groups, and corporations to volunteer some of their time to read with the BCS students. Reading to children improves their opportunity to hear others read outside of their normal classroom setting. These efforts have proven to be very beneficial to the students and may boost their interest and proficiency in reading.

Are you interested in volunteering? Page Pals volunteers go into one of the BCS elementary schools during the students’ library times, spending about thirty minutes of reading time with the students. Volunteers may choose from a list of schools, dates, and times that work best with their schedule. During their selected time, volunteers will read a book to the students that follows a curriculum created by BCS to help them build the background knowledge in science and social studies and to better prepare them for their standardized testing that occurs in April. Volunteers are encouraged to engage with the students by asking them questions periodically, reiterating comprehension and understanding about the book being read, and help grow their love for reading; thereby making a strong connection impact so that they perform better on their Alabama Comprehensive Assessment.

Our local children need our help to ensure their future remains bright, so let’s help to light their path to a brighter future. Sign up to become a Page Pal volunteer. It is easy and free! Simply visit and select your school choice, date and time. Now you’re all set!  If you ‘d like more information about the Page Pals program, you can follow this link at

Acknowledgement: would like to thank you to Mr. Marquise Hollingsworth for your time in support of this blogpost.

Ashwagandha: A Natural Way to Fight Depression or Anxiety

By Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

Depression and Anxiety are fairly common mental health issues among individuals across the world. According to the CDC, depression occurs when a sad mood lasts for a long time, and interferes with normal, everyday functioning (CDC, 2022). Symptoms of Depression include:

  • Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
  • Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
  • Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Waking up too early or sleeping too much
  • Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
  • Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself

Fortunately there are existing supplements that can help treat symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is part of an evergreen plant that grows in both Asia and Africa. The plant is known to have health benefits when ingested as teas, powders, tinctures and supplements, or in raw form (Chandrasekhar et al., 2012). Ashwagandha is a classic example of a adaptogen, a plant or mushroom used for a variety of stress-related ailments such as anxiety, sleeplessness, aging and well-being. Ashwagandha also aids the body’s ability to withstand both physical and mental stress (Kumar et al., 2021).

Here are 7 benefits of using Ashwaganda:

  • Relieves stress and anxiety 
  • Lowers blood sugar and fat
  • Increases muscular strength 
  • Improves sexual function in women
  • Boosts fertility and testosterone levels in men
  • Sharpens focus and memory 
  • Supports heart health

Ashwagandha is usually consumed by using supplement capsules or in tablet, powder, tincture and tea form (Forbes, 2023). For more creativity, you can add the raw form of Ashwagandha into nut butters, granola, smoothies and overnight oats with low exposure to high heat. Have you tried Ashwagandha? What has been your experience? Feel free to leave a comment and join us on Facebook.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 14). Mental health conditions: Depression and anxiety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from

Forbes Magazine. (2023, February 1). 7 science-backed health benefits of ashwagandha. Forbes. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from

Kumar S, Bouic PJ, Rosenkranz B. Investigation of CYP2B6, 3A4 and ß-esterase interactions of Withania somnifera (L.) dunal in human liver microsomes and HepG2 cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021;270:113766.

Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine34(3), 255–262.

Understand the Risks, Avoid Incarceration, & Change the Negative Narrative for Men of Color


Photo by Ron Lach on

In many metropolitan areas across the country, if you watch the local news, you will often see stories painting a very negative storyline of men of color. It is almost as the local news vans and their local stations do not miss an opportunity to show the adverse challenges within urban communities or communities inhabited by people of color. This trend is very concerning, as representations of crime in the media shape public opinion, particularly through the frequency in which crime is reported and the characterizations of criminal participants and victims (Bjornstrom, Kaufman, Peterson, & Slater, 2010). Similarly, previous studies suggests that when overrepresented in the media as perpetuators, racial and gender stereotypes may be reinforced within society and raise public hostility toward groups like men of color (Dixon, Azocar, & Casas, 2003; Dixon & Linz, 2000).

Unfortunately, older research from 1997 does suggest the lifetime risk of African-American men going to state or federal prison from birth is 28.5%.  A special report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (1997) estimated 1 of every 20 persons (5%) can be expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime. The lifetime chances of a person going to prison are higher for men (9%) than for women (1%) and higher for blacks (16%) and Hispanics (9%) than for whites (2%) (Bonczar & Beck, 1997).  Thusly, at the time of the report, if incarceration rates were to stay the same, newborn black males in this country have a greater than a 1 in 4 chance of going to prison during their lifetimes, while Hispanic males have a 1 in 6 chance, and white males have a 1 in 23 chance of serving time (Bonczar & Beck, 1997).  WE CAN CHANGE THE NEGATIVE NARRATIVE!

If men of color are being targeted by the criminal justice system, that is even more reason to be intentional about avoid criminal circumstances…even when we are enticed by others who we know. Let’s be clear, in many communities, being a man of color within the United States of America means there is a need to act with extraordinary caution and sensitivity in these manners. Collectively, we must work to avoid committing felonies, the most serious of crimes such as intent to commit heinous crimes, causing grievous injury, or destroying property. We must put down the guns and reduce incarceration due to drugs. Although less serious, misdemeanor crimes are punishable by jail time of one year or less per misdemeanor, a fine, or alternative sentencing like probation, rehabilitation, or community service. Infractions and violations are minor offenses like jaywalking and motor vehicle offenses that result in a simple traffic ticket. Still, any of these offenses can be more serious trouble for men of color.

Proverbial wisdom suggests men of color, all persons really, should refrain from criminal activity…PERIOD. Among many reasons, one rationale to avoid criminal activity is because ultimately criminal actions will lead to state or federal prison…or worse. So, let’s focus our efforts on living with honor and integrity. Work to be honest in words and deeds and advocate for the less fortunate. And let’s vote to support those who experiencing targeting by the criminal justice system, while helping us all to KEEP OUT of jail and prison.

Readers, offer your comments here. What do you believe is the risk for young men, specifically men of color, for going to jail or prison? What are ways young men can avoid committing criminal offenses? Specifically, what young men (& women) do to prevent criminal activity when it may be all around them (i.e., in their homes, neighborhoods, family, friends)? Leave encouraging comments here.

Bjornstrom, E. E., Kaufman, R. L., Peterson, R. D., & Slater, M. D. (2010). RACE AND ETHNIC REPRESENTATIONS OF LAWBREAKERS AND VICTIMS IN CRIME NEWS: A NATIONAL STUDY OF TELEVISION COVERAGE. Social problems57(2), 269–293.

Bonczar, T.P. & Beck, A.J. (1997). Lifetime Likelihood of Going to State or Federal Prison. Bureau of Justice Statistics. U.S. Department of Justice.

Dixon Travis L., Azocar Christina L., Casas Michael. The Portrayal of Race and Crime on Television Network News. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. 2003; 47:498–523.

Dixon Travis L., Linz Daniel. Race and the Misrepresentation of Victimization on Local Television News. Communication Research. 2000a; 27:547–573.