Category: Advocacy

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?


America Society of Placstic Surgeons. (2023). Mommy Makeover Risks and Safety.

Brito, Christopher. (2023, June 2). Jacky Oh, Wild ‘N Out Cast Member, Dead at 32.

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!


Gordon, L. (2023, May 24). Tina Turner said she put herself in “Great danger” weeks before her death. Mirror.

Powell, T., Chowdhury, M., & Vera, A. (2023, May 25). Tina Turner dies at 83 – News and Tributes. CNN.

Whitman, S. (2023, May 25). Tina Turner’s health: Her cancer battle, Stroke & Kidney Disease before she died. Hollywood Life.

The City of Birmingham 2nd Annual Mental Health Day

By The PHAME-US Campaign

Join the 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!

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).


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.


American Cancer Society (ACS). (2021). Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2021-2023. Retrieved from

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

Where Does Anxiety Come From?

By Terrie Johnson | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo by Yan Krukau on

Anxiety is a mental health state frequently experienced by people all over the world regardless of their age, gender, cultural background, or religious affiliation. According to Medline Plus in the NIH National Library of Medicine, anxiety is the feeling of fear, distress, concern, and panic (Anxiety, 2023). When people are anxious, their heart rate increases and their muscles are tense. This is how the body responds to stressful events, thoughts or encounters. It is also the body’s way of coping with overwhelming difficulties that can temporarily cause other health issues.

When anxiety reaches extreme extents, it can lead to the development of anxiety disorders, phobias, or panic attacks. However, anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear and can get worse over time. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders (Anxiety disorders, 2023).

Symptoms can interfere with regular daily activities and often include increased breathing, feeling as if a heart attack is occurring, and signs of weakness. The most common challenges people with anxiety face include relationships, school, work, health, or money.

How can we get rid of anxiety?

Cognitive Therapy Treatment- the most effective recommendation. This psychological approach teaches people to think differently to change how they act. When people are trained to react with confidence and assurance, they can prevent being afraid and being overtaken with fear.

Avoiding triggers- talking about bothersome subjects and eliminating aspects of life that provoke fear.

Seek psychiatric treatment- being prescribed antidepressants may reduce symptoms, increase productivity, and promote a sense of normalcy.

Relaxation methods- meditation, yoga, and other relaxing activities may help slow the heart rate down and help refocus the mind.


Anxiety disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2023, from

Medline Plus. (2020). Anxiety. NIH National Library of Medicine.

Damar Hamlin and the Injury Seen Around the Nation

By Terrie Johnson | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Figure 1 Photo Credit: Damar Hamlin Instagram Account @d.ham3 (2023).

Damar Hamlin is a name that might not have been known to many before January 02, 2023. However, now, Hamlin’s name is associated with one of the biggest news stories of 2023 when the nation waited on a health update and prayed for a positive outcome given his health condition. According to Devon Markham of News Nation, Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills collapsed on the field mid-game after a defensive tackle. Following the play, Hamlin lost consciousness and received CPR from medical personnel for nine minutes. Most notably, Journalist Devon Markham shares assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington used a defibrillator during the process and successfully resuscitated Hamlin as he lay lifeless on the field. He was immediately put into an ambulance and taken to a local hospital for treatment.

For days afterwards, fans held vigils waiting for updates. Hamlin transitioned from relying on a breathing tube to 100% breathing on his own and showing significant neurological recovery. He also began speaking and acknowledging teammates, family, and friends. Hamlin was eventually released from the hospital in Cincinnati, OH and transported to his home in Buffalo, NY.

As many were relieved to hear of Mr. Hamlin’s progress, the circumstances of his history raised questions about the severity of hits taken by NFL players. A review of history shows there have been numerous players to experience similar life-threatening injuries. Markham recorded the experience of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier in December of 2017, when he suffered a spinal contusion that left him temporarily paralyzed. In December of 2011, Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox took a major hit that ended his career. Also, September 2007, Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett was temporarily paralyzed after a hit which also ended his career.

Conversations have taken place about the disability pay received by players. Several people feel more of their contract should be paid out if they experience a life-threatening encounter. Fans may empathize with the players’ expending health and money, far exceeding the contributions made by the league to the players. As such, it is important for the public to advocate for change. NFL policies and perhaps federal legislations may be necessary to hold the NFL more responsible for the health problems of the current and former players. Specifically, the government should introduce a health policy to the NFL that regulates their assessment and treatment of player injuries. Also, part of the millions made by the league should be used to advocate for a health fund used for players with a diversity of NFL related injuries.

Furthermore, steps should be taken to reduce the power the league has over medical professionals, determinations, and overall outcomes. While fans enjoy the fun and excitement players provide, they must also fight to protect their favorite players from various health implications and unfair outcomes. Lastly, fans of the league can flood the #NFL on all social media platforms to express their grievances, concerns, and suggestions. This would increase awareness that the public has expectations that should be addressed along with the players.


Hamlin, Damar. (2023). Damar Hamlin 3 on Instagram “GAMETIME @buffalobills

LFG!!!!!!”. Instagram.

Markham, Devan. (2023). The most notable life-threatening injuries in the NFL. News Nation.

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.

The Key to Effective Parenting:  It Takes a Village

By Shon Mack | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

I’m sure there are parents out there (like me) who have concerns about being a good parent.  We as parents put way too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to raising our kids. It’s tough enough carrying our babies for 9 months, introducing them to the world, and guiding them until they are old enough to spread their wings on their own. 

Surprisingly, our primary concern is encouraging emotional development and making sure that we instill love, validation, protection, a sense of self-worth, and positivity into them. Let’s be honest, it’s kind of challenging to do so when we already have the weight of the world on our shoulders. It is also common for parents to lose sight of who they are as individuals. Constantly working to make ends meet, worrying about when our next bills are due, or even completely giving up on our dreams just to give our offspring the life we never had can negatively affect our mental health. 

“It takes a village to raise children” is a popular expression that originates from an African proverb and conveys the message that it takes many people to provide safe, healthy environments for children, where children are given the security they need to develop and flourish (Reupert et al., 2022). This requires an environment where multiple people including siblings, extended family and friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. care for a child, and we as parents need all of the help we can get. We also need to realize that asking for help is okay. It doesn’t t make you weak, in fact, it exudes strength.

Despite many parenting hardships, sitting and watching our children grow into beautiful young adults is very rewarding. It is a major accomplishment and every parent deserves a huge pat on the back! We must keep loving and nurturing our kids and reminding ourselves that the village is the notion that caring for children is a shared responsibility amongst many (Reupert et al., 2022).

Reupert, A., Straussner, S. L., Weimand, B., & Maybery, D. (2022, February 11). It takes a village to raise a child: Understanding and expanding the concept of the “village”. Frontiers. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from,be%20able%20to%20realize%20their%20hopes%20and%20dreams.