The City of Birmingham 2nd Annual Mental Health Day

By The PHAME-US Campaign

Join the PHAME-US.com and Wilkinson Wellness Lab team at this community event sponsored by Nuture, LLC, the City of Birmingham, AL and Birmingham City Schools. The event is free and open to the public.

Nurture of Alabama believes Birmingham can thrive, especially if communities address the mental health crisis experienced in our neighborhoods. Through the event Friday, May 19th, Nurture’s goals are to: 1) remove the stigma of mental health support, 2) improve mental health services accessibility, and 3) provide community education on mental health & wellness.

The event will have chair massages, a licensed professional counselor providing depression screenings, speakers,  free resources, giveaways, local food trucks,  yoga sessions, line dancing, blood pressure checks and more. So come out, have a good time, and let’s engage in mental wellness!

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 Pexels.com

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 https://www.signupgenius.com/go/springpagepals#/ 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 https://www.bhamyouthfirst.org/page-pals/.

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

Dying To Be Perfect

Angela Wilson | Intern UAB School of Education | CHHS

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Jacky Oh was a Beautiful, talented mega-influencer, model, and socialite who seemed to have everything.  She was a YouTuber, an entrepreneur of a lip gloss line, and a regular star on the hit comedy and cultural phenomenon, “Wild ‘N Out”.  She had amassed an Instagram following of more than a million people and had three beautiful children with her longtime partner, comedian and rapper, DC Young Fly.  Unfortunately, at just 32 years old, Jacky Oh, whose real name is Jacklyn Smith died. 

The vivacious beauty posted on her Instagram page that she was going to have a “mommy makeover” and that she would reveal the results of her procedure on her YouTube channel.  She seemed very excited about the possibility of improving her body, by tightening up the problem areas just months after giving birth to her son. She and her doctor, Dr. Zachary Okhah, were all smiles standing next to each other while flirtatiously piquing the interest of her fans. The publicity seemed to be destined for a promotional win and money maker for both of them, but something went terribly wrong. 

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, a mommy makeover can include targeting more than one area of a woman’s body,. Often the surgery of choice for women who have noticed significant changes in their bodies as a result of gaining and losing weight, breastfeeding, and other physical changes during motherhood. The typical problem areas are the breasts and the abdomen.  The breasts began to loose shape after breast-feeding, and the abdominal muscles, tissues, and skin that stretch during pregnancy to accommodate the fetus, may not snap back after giving birth. This leaves women with layers of excess abdominal skin usually accompanied by unsightly stretch marks.  If you are in the entertainment business and your revenue is generated based on how good you look, or how fit your body is, it is easy to see why Jacky Oh decided on a mommy makeover. 

A mommy makeover may consist of breast augmentation, a breast lift, a tummy tuck, circumferential abdominoplasty, and liposuction. It may seem like an easy, quick way to get your pre-pregnancy body back, but there are several risks involved. These risks include infection, bleeding, hematoma, unfavorable scarring, necrosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications, persistent pain, contour deformity, fat embolization, anesthesia risks, and even death.

While speculation is running rampant about the exact cause of death of Jacky Oh, the only thing that is certain is that 3 children will grow up without their mother, millions of fans will be without their shining star, and a loyal man be without his partner.  I cannot help but ask myself, is having cosmetic surgery worth the risk?

References

America Society of Placstic Surgeons. (2023). Mommy Makeover Risks and Safety. https://www.plasticsurgery.org.

Brito, Christopher. (2023, June 2). Jacky Oh, Wild ‘N Out Cast Member, Dead at 32.  https://www.cbsnews.com.

What Tina Turner Wanted You To Know About Prevention

Tina Turner in 2018. Photo: FRANZISKA KRUG/GETTY

News of the death of Tina Turner broke the hearts of people worldwide. An inspiration to many, and a legend to all. “Turner was the first black artist and the first female artist to feature on the cover of Rolling Stone, according to the music publishing company BMG.” (Powell et al., 2023) The renowned singer and actress had been secretly battling illness. She had reportedly survived a stroke, kidney disease, and other conditions, such as intestinal cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2016. A few days before her passing, Tina Turner warned her fans to look after themselves and listen to their bodies as she raised awareness of the common issue of kidney failure. In her social media post, Tina Turner wrote, “My kidneys are victims of me not realizing that my high blood pressure should have been treated with conventional medicine. I have put myself in great danger by refusing to face the reality that I need daily, lifelong therapy with medication. For far too long, I believed that my body was an untouchable and indestructible bastion,” (Whitman, 2023). Turner had been suffering from a kidney disease before her 2016 cancer diagnosis.

One of the major causes of kidney failure is high blood pressure (Mirror, 2023). Despite knowing she had a problem with high blood pressure, Turner says she failed to treat it. Tina required daily medications to manage her blood pressure. However, she failed to implement medicine into her routine, believing that her body was an indestructible and invulnerable bastion. Despite the developing signs and symptoms, which she blamed on medications, Turner kept ignoring them, only to realize that her kidneys were entering their final stage. Turner’s kidneys had reached an irreversible stage since their functions had hit an all-time low due to the inconsistency in taking her medications. In 2017, her doctor advised her that she would need 9-month dialysis before undergoing a kidney transplant. One of the lessons we can learn from Turner’s final days is that we should not ignore the message our body is trying to communicate to us. Listen to Tina, and don’t be naïve about your health.

RIP Tina Turner – Thank you for all the years of entertainment and inspiration!

References

Gordon, L. (2023, May 24). Tina Turner said she put herself in “Great danger” weeks before her death. Mirror. https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/us-celebrity-news/tina-turners-emotional-last-post-30069740

Powell, T., Chowdhury, M., & Vera, A. (2023, May 25). Tina Turner dies at 83 – News and Tributes. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/entertainment/live-news/singer-tina-turner-death-news/index.html

Whitman, S. (2023, May 25). Tina Turner’s health: Her cancer battle, Stroke & Kidney Disease before she died. Hollywood Life. https://hollywoodlife.com/feature/tina-turner-health-5106537/

The Kardashians Do It, But Should You?

By Jessica Feagin, Intern and UAB Community Health and Human Services Student

A waist trainer is designed to pull a person’s midsection tightly to give that sleek waist and hourglass figure. Sometimes wearing a waist trainer can cause weight loss by a person feeling as though they have a decrease in appetite due to the compression and sweating, not loss of body fat. In addition, improved posture may temporarily result while wearing a waist trainer, but wearing it too much can weaken your core muscles and cause poor posture and back pain (Fletcher, n.d.).

Aside from waist trainers’ benefits and impacts, they pose serious health risks. For example, wearing a waist trainer can cause difficulty breathing. Additionally, a study that was performed in 2018 reported that the maximum voluntary ventilation (how much air you can inhale and exhale in one minute) decreases while wearing a waist trainer (“Effect of waist trainers on breathing,” 2018). Wearing a waist trainer makes it harder for your body to get all the oxygen it needs, which is not safe, especially if you wear it during physical activity. Wearing a waist trainer may also cause nerve damage by compressing the nerve that runs down from the groin. Waist trainers compress your stomach, so it can cause some gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn and acid reflux and cause you to eat less. Wearing a waist trainer pushes your organs in your midsection, which may shift positions or experience reduced blood flow, which can affect organ function (Vandergriendt, n.d.).

Dr. Wakim-Fleming from a Cleveland Clinic advises that it is OK to wear a waist trainer for a day to an event or if you want to wear it with a tight-fitting dress, but wearing a waist trainer consecutively day and night can become dangerous. This doctor’s rule of thumb is not to wear them overnight and not to wear them for multiple days in a row, but using them for special occasions for a couple of hours a day is acceptable (Cleveland Clinic, 2023).

I like to wear my waist trainers occasionally to get the hourglass look I am going for, as other ladies do. However, we must listen to our bodies while wearing a waist trainer. If you’re experiencing difficulty breathing, swelling in your lower extremities, food regurgitation after eating, or increased acid reflux…take it off IMMEDIATELY!

References

The effect of waist trainers on breathing. (2018, October 1). American Association for Respiratory Care. https://rc.rcjournal.com/content/63/Suppl_10/3012838.short

Fletcher, J. (n.d.). Do waist trainers work?: Benefits and risks. Medical and health information. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/do-waist-trainers-work

Vandergriendt, C. (n.d.). Are waist trainers dangerous? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/are-waist-trainers-dangerous

Waist trainers: What you should know. (2023, March 6). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-waist-trainers-work/

A Gallon a Day, Helps Beyoncé to SLAY!

Amanda Benko | Intern UAB School of Education – CHHS

Image Source: Getty / Kevin Winter/BET

Staying Hydrated – Why is it important to drink enough H20

Beyoncé says, “I try to take care of myself, drinking at least a gallon of water with lemon a day” (Cut, 2016). Did you know that water makes up most of your body weight and involves several vital functions, including removing waste from the body, regulating your body temperature, and helping with brain function? It is essential to note that water plays an important part in our body’s functioning. According to the CDC, getting enough water daily is necessary for your health. Drinking water daily can help you stay hydrated (CDC, 2022). It can also help regulate body temperature, help keep our joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and ensure that organs function properly. Being well-hydrated can help you improve the quality of your sleep, mood, and cognition. According to experts, one should drink approximately 11 cups of water daily for an average woman and around 16 cups for men. Water plays a vital role in various body functions, such as the digestion of food, absorption, circulation, and excretion (Aschwanden, 2021). Research has shown that drinking plenty of water helps transport nutrients, oxygen, and hormones across the body.

Drinking plenty of water also helps in the hydration of cells and tissues. Our bodies are composed mainly of water. Every cell, tissue, and organ depends on water for proper functioning. Proper hydration can help you maintain the balance of fluids within the body, enabling you to maintain optimal energy levels, enhance concentration, and improve one’s overall productivity. Studies also reiterate that drinking plenty of water is good for skin health. It can help keep your skin hydrated and moisturized, reducing the risk of dryness, wrinkles, and disorders affecting the skin. This helps promote a healthy complexion, possibly contributing to a more youthful experience.

In conclusion, water is essential to almost every part of your body. Drinking the recommended daily amount of water will help you maintain your current state of health and improve your overall health. If you are exercising or living in hotter regions, it is essential to increase your water intake to avoid dehydration. What steps do you find helpful to keep hydrated?

References:

Aschwanden, C. (2021, September 17). How much water do you actually need?. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/well/live/how-much-water-should-I-drink.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 6). Water and healthier drinks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks.html

Cut, T. (2016, January 14). 33 celebrities on drinking water. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/thecut/2016/01/12/33-celebrities-on-drinking-water/?sh=22035d557d3d

Stay hydrated for Healthier Living. (2014). Nursing Standard, 28(47), 13–13. https://doi.org/10.7748/ns.28.47.13.s12

Stand up more and improve your health!

By Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson | PHAME-US Campaign

What’s up? Are you? Yes, we are starting the post with a little humor in hopes that you will STAND UP! A study from a group of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh showed that on average, a person burned 8 more calories standing versus sitting at work (Creasy, Rogers, Byard, Kowalsky, & Jakicic, 2016). This may not sound like a lot, but if standing half the time during an 8 hour workday, after one week a person will have burned (used) 160 calories, about the standard serving size of Oreo cookies or Lay’s Classic Potato Chips. Again, this may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps, Right?

Calories are how we measure energy and describes the energy we get from eating food and drinking. Calories don’t measure weight or length. Instead, we burn (use) calories when we exercise, walk, and perform regular movements throughout the day. Another way to burn calories is to simply, STAND. Also, there are other benefits to standing more during the day! Experts from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Chosewood & Franklin, 2012) found that using sit-stand workstations did the following:

  • Standing more while at work decreases the amount of time spent in sedentary work
  • Standing more helps relieve pressure on the lower back, buttocks and legs, and may help reduce compression of the spine arising from long periods of sitting
  • Standing more may improve energy levels
  • Standing more frequently may improve cognition
  • Standing may increase circulation and lead to better blood flow to the brain and other organs
  • Standing more burns more calories than sitting
  • Standing more may assist with energy balance and aid in weight management
  • Standing more may improve bone density over time
  • Standing more may promote better sleep

So what about you? Are you standing more? Are you willing to TAKE A STAND and STAND UP? How will you stand more during the day? I can hear Ludacris’s song playing in my head…”When I Move, You Move.” So just LIKE THAT, let’s stand up and move together. Share your story about standing or the different ways you move here in the comments section and/or share with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

References
Chosewood, L.C. & Franklin, C.C. (2012, December 5). NIOSH takes a stand. NIOSH Science Blog. https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2012/12/05/sit-stand/.

Creasy, S. A., Rogers, R. J., Byard, T. D., Kowalsky, R. J., & Jakicic, J. M. (2016). Energy Expenditure During Acute Periods of Sitting, Standing, and Walking. Journal of physical activity & health13(6), 573–578. https://doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2015-0419

Defeating Diabetes in the African American Community

By Regina Dodson | Community Health and Human Services Intern

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide, and it is becoming increasingly prevalent in the African American community. According to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. This is a significant problem that must be addressed to prevent the debilitating complications associated with the disease.

There are several reasons why diabetes is affecting the African American community. A primary factor is genetics, as research has shown that African Americans are more likely to develop diabetes due to their genetic makeup. Additionally, there are social determinants of health that contribute to the higher prevalence of diabetes in African Americans, such as limited access to healthcare, poverty, and discrimination.

Food deserts, defined as areas where there is limited access to healthy and affordable food options, are also prevalent in African American communities. They have been linked to a higher incidence of diabetes. Access to healthy food options is critical for the prevention and management of diabetes, as a healthy diet is a primary component of diabetes management. The elimination of food deserts in African American communities can help to reduce diabetes.

According to the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, food deserts are more prevalent in African American communities compared to white communities, and they are associated with a higher incidence of diabetes. Lack of access to healthy food options can lead to a diet high in saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods, which are all risk factors. In addition to the lack of access to healthy food options, food deserts are also associated with poverty, which can lead to limited financial resources to purchase healthy foods. Low-income individuals are more likely to live in food deserts, and they are at a higher risk of developing diabetes due to their limited access to healthy foods (Walker et al, 2010).

Food deserts can be minimized in African American communities by investing in grocery stores and farmers’ markets that provide fresh produce and healthy food options. Additionally, community gardens and urban farming initiatives can help to provide healthy food options in underserved communities (Walker & Block, 2011). Community gardens and urban agriculture programs have been shown to be effective in increasing access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods. These programs provide residents with fresh fruits and vegetables, which can help reduce the incidence of diabetes and other chronic diseases and improve overall health outcomes (Lebrón et al, 2019).

References:

LeBrón, A. M. W., Schulz, A. J., Gamboa, C., Reyes, A. G., & Cordero, E. D. (2019). Food environment interventions to improve the dietary behavior of African Americans: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine Reports, 15, 100940.

Walker, R. E., Keane, C. R., & Burke, J. G. (2010). Disparities and access to healthy food in the United States: a review of food deserts literature. Health & place, 16(5), 876-884.

Walker, R. E., & Block, J. P. (2011). Opportunities for intervention: changing the environment to improve health. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 17(Suppl 1), S44-S50.

 

How to Kill Cancer in the African American Community

By Regina Dodson | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States, and there is also a high prevalence of the disease affecting the African American community. African Americans have higher cancer mortality rates than any other racial or ethnic group, with a 14% higher overall cancer death rate than non-Hispanic whites (ACS, 2021). This disparity can be caused by a variety of factors, including socio-economic status, lifestyle factors, and limited access to healthcare.

One solution to reduce cancer disparities in the African American community is to increase access to cancer screenings. Early detection is crucial in the treatment of cancer, and regular cancer screenings can help detect cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable. However, African Americans are less likely to receive cancer screenings than non-Hispanic whites, due to limited access to healthcare (ACS, 2021).

Community-based interventions have shown promise in increasing cancer screening rates in the African American community. These interventions involve community outreach and education, providing information on the importance of cancer screenings and how to access them. The Patient Navigation Program provides individualized support to people wishing to be screened for cancer, including transportation and other logistical support (Ferrante et al., 2011).

Another community-based intervention is the use of mobile mammography units, which bring mammography services to underserved communities, making it easier for women to access breast cancer screenings (Willems et al., 2019). Mobile mammography units have been shown to be effective in increasing breast cancer screening rates in underserved populations, including African American women.

Increasing access to cancer screenings in the African American community is crucial for reducing cancer disparities. Community-based interventions, such as the Patient Navigation Program and mobile mammography units, can help increase cancer screening rates in underserved populations. By improving access to cancer screenings, we can help detect cancer at an early stage, leading to better treatment outcomes and ultimately reducing cancer mortality rates in the African American community.

References:

American Cancer Society (ACS). (2021). Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2021-2023. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/cancer-facts-and-figures-for-african-americans/cancer-facts-and-figures-for-african-americans-2021-2023.pdf

Ferrante, J. M., Chen, P. H., Kim, S., & The-Pennsylvania-Patient-Centered-Medical-Home-Initiative (2011). The effect of patient navigation on time to diagnosis, anxiety, and satisfaction in urban minority women with abnormal mammograms: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Urban Health, 88(2), 211–226. doi: 10.1007/s11524-010-9502-6

Willems, B. A., Henry, K. A., Richter, R. R., & Hsieh, Y. W. (2019). Breast Cancer Screening in Underserved Women in the United States: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Women’s Health, 28(2), 269–277. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6863

I am Not My Hair

By Tan Walker | Community Health and Human Services Intern

In today’s society, glorifying unhealthy and unrealistic expectations makes us beautiful. It is easy to focus on appearance rather than character. Women, especially black women, have to work more than most to attain the world’s idealistic view of beauty.

The Afro hair texture has been the epitome of a black woman’s life for centuries. As far back as the slave trade, Africans were forced to abandon their links and connections to their natural hair to simply strip away any cultural identity or tribal heritage (Black hair and an unjust society, 2021). However, this has not stopped Black women from embracing their natural tresses.

From the infamous “fro” to hair wraps to braids, Black women continue to embrace their natural hairstyles to help express who they are, and to show the evolution of empowerment and Black culture over time.

As a community, we must speak power into our young black girls and remind them that their natural hair is beautiful until they feel it themselves, and that their natural hair doesn’t define who they are. 

Black hair and an unjust society. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2023, from https://www.edi.nih.gov/blog/communities/black-hair-and-unjust-society