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Nov. 16 webinar: Using health data to get your project funded

Enhance your grant proposals using the online web tool  Attend a Nov. 16 webinar hosted by The Advancement Project that will teach participants how to create maps and charts that cans help demonstrate both the need and potential for services in your community. A special guest co-presenter from First 5 LA will share some insight from a funder’s perspective.

Additionally, participants will learn how to:

  • Gather data for a particular area of interest by creating your own community map.  
  • Report results to make the case that your program or project has had a positive and measurable impact.

Learn more or Register Now!

Space is limited. Register Now.

Date: Nov. 16, 2011
Time: 10 – 11:00 a.m. PDT
Cost: Free

Asthma: An entire family sick, a mother's campaign

By Jazmin Zane, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Health DATA Program

Martha Cota remembers her son’s fight for life.  She can still see his purple lips and nails.  She can still hear the awful sound of hospital respirators.

That was 20 years ago.  The culprit?  Asthma.  It had put her son in the hospital.  Then, another of her four children was also diagnosed with the chronic respiratory illness.  Fast forward to the present, and Cota’s grandson, who lives near the 710 freeway in Long Beach, Calif., is also showing signs of asthma.  And on October 5, 2009, Cota herself was diagnosed with cancer.

Why is this family so sick?

It wasn’t until a neighbor in the east Long Beach community where Cota lives invited her to a local community meeting on the port of Long Beach, that she made the connection.  Cota now believes her family’s health issues are directly related to air pollution in Long Beach, and specifically to the port which, along with the port of Los Angeles, is responsible for most of the nation’s shipping traffic — and a huge amount of pollution.

“It had a big impact for me” Cota  said.  “From that moment on, I dedicated myself to the cause and to learning more so that I can tell other families what is going on and not to be fooled.”

For Cota, asthma wasn’t just personal anymore.  It was political.

“Everything that is contaminating our environment is also contaminating us, our children, our families, “Cota said.  “And it is not just my son with asthma. There are thousands of children with asthma. There are many premature deaths due to the contamination of the air.”

Recent chemotherapy hasn’t slowed her down. “I have cancer but that does not stop me from staying in the fight and telling families to keep moving forward.”

So what can communities do in response to poor air quality? Cota’s answer: Get involved!

“Keep moving forward. Keep contacting legislators and other municipal leaders,” Cota said. Persistance pays off.

Cota herself has participated in numerous campaigns to improve air quality at the ports, and to stop the expansion of the 710 freeway.  She has even gone to Sacramento to share her personal story with legislators.

Cota is a recent graduate of the ALERT Project, an initiative run by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Health DATA Program’s to pair community advocates with experts and data that can help them make a credible case for a cleaner environment.   

“The scientists and us can really work together,” Cota said.  “This is the main reason we have opened the doors of Long Beach to UCLA. We want to work as a team. We don’t want the science to be on one-sided. We want to work collectively.”

Through ALERT, Cota became aware that other Los Angeles communities such as Boyle Heights were also struggling with pollution.

“They are going through the same thing and we knew nothing about them. This to me was very impacting,” Cota said.

Cota also works with the Long Beach Alliance for Childre with Asthma, encouraging families with sick children to keep fighting for health equity. “There are many families that look to me for strength, knowledge, guidance,” Cota said. “We can never allow ourselves to quit because in life there are many problems that WE have to resolve.”

How have you fought for better health in your community?  Tell us your tips and techniques by leaving a comment, below.

Related Resources:
ALERT Project (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research)
Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma 
Case Study: Long Beach Oversight Committee – I-710 Freeway Major Corridor Study

Tips on how to use data in policy and advocacy:

Advocacy tools and Guidelines
Advocacy Tools and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change
The Health Advocacy Toolbox 

Quick data on low-income women and children at your fingertips

Want to know how many women there are in Los Angeles?  How many of those are pregnant?  How many are Hispanic, American Indian or African American?  The Public Health Foundation Enterprises/Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Data Mining Project provides a quick online tool that helps you generate estimates and a chart in a single click. Try the tool here.

The site also provides results from a random survey of 5,000-6,000 low-income WIC families in Los Angeles county, specifically providing data on low-income young children (ages 0 to 5).  Survey instruments and results are found here.

Nov. 14-15 Summit (Loma Linda): Healthy communities by design

Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health cordially invites you to attend the Healthy Communities by Design Summit, an opportunity to learn and discuss new approaches to healthy community planning, discuss ways to improve existing initiatives and to network.  

A unique cross section of key leadership in policy, industry, and academia will attend the two day (Nov. 14-15) Summit. Presentations will be given by experts in the field including, Sandra Witt, director of the Healthy Communities North program at The California Endowment. Witt’s presentation will serve as the platform for discussion around the built environment and health.

There will also be complimentary food and beverages for all participants, a networking and alumni reception, Esri demos, and much more!

Nov. 14, 2011, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Nov. 15, 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Loma Linda University
Centennial Complex
(4th floor)
24760 Stewart Street
Loma Linda, CA 92354

$25 general admission, $50 registration with continuing education

To learn more, visit the Summit’s Web page

New investigation reveals "poisoned places" in  your neighborhood

A new interactive map from the Center for Public Integrity and NPR shows the locations of toxic-waste emitters in every state in the nation, including dozens of locations throughout California. 

Click here to see the map.

The map is part of a larger investigation that found that many companies still emit high concentrations of hazardous air pollution in many communities.  

From the report:

“Pollution violations at more than 1,600 plants across the country were serious enough that the government believes they require urgent action, according to an analysis of EPA data by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity. Yet nearly 300 of those facilities have been considered “high priority violators” of the Clean Air Act by the Environmental Protection Agency for at least a decade. About a quarter of those 1,600 violators are on an internal EPA “watch list,” which the agency has kept secret until now.”

A separate spreadsheet shows 16 California companies on the secret watchlist, including an Exxon Mobile location in Torrance,  TXI Riverside Cement in Oro Grande, and E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto.

On the Los Angeles portion of the map, more than three-dozen high-risk companies are concentrated in a portion of the city stretching westwards from Santa Fe Springs  to South Gate and up to downtown Los Angeles. Parts of San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Long Beach, Santa Clara County and other mostly-metropolitan areas of the state also show high concentrations of polluting organizations.

Read Part 1 of the four-part investigation here: “Secret ‘Watch List’ Reveals Failure To Curb Toxic Air”
View the interactive map here: “Poisoned Places Map”

Vanessa Marvin: Three tobacco truths

Vanessa Marvin, the Associate Director for The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing, has provided countless trainings to local coalitions and regional groups around the state on topics such as the Midwest Academy Strategy Chart, recruitment, working with elected officials, and coalition facilitation. In this post, Marvin writes about how data is an important tool in advocating for tobacco control. 

To prevent kids from getting access to cigarettes, tobacco control advocates in California are working to pass local tobacco retailer licensing laws in their communities. More than 80 cities and counties in California have adopted these ordinances so that enforcement action can be taken at the local level against retailers who sell tobacco products to minors.

A license might sound like a common sense approach, but there is opposition to this idea, and there are a lot of arguments against licensing that advocates across California have heard over and over again. The American Lung Association in California’s Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing provides advocates with data to combat these arguments: 

  • Argument 1: The public might support this type of policy in liberal San Francisco, but they would never support it in more conservative rural California. 
    Response: To test this, we conducted a telephone survey of rural and small town voters in California. We found overwhelming support for tobacco retailer licensing. More than three of four rural and small town voters in California support requiring store owners in their area to get a license to sell cigarettes. Now advocates in rural California can reassure their nervous elected officials that their constituents do in fact support licensing.
  • Argument 2: We don’t know whether licensing is actually effective. 
    Response: To respond we’ve gathered data on the before and after rates of sales to minors from local communities where licensing has passed.  Overwhelmingly the sales rate data shows that sales to minors have dropped dramatically after an ordinance passes and advocates can now say that licensing does reduce sales to youth. 
  • Argument 3: We should wait until the economy improves before imposing this license and fee.
    Response: Obviously protecting minors from the harmful effects of tobacco should not have to wait until the economy improves. Tobacco retailers are making enough money from cigarettes that a licensing fee of approximately $200 would not be a burden for them. In fact, data from the National Association for Convenience & Petroleum Retailing shows that in 2009, cigarettes accounted for 35.9% of all in-store sales and generated average sales of $576,354 per convenience store. We have condensed this data into a factsheet so that advocates can now point out that what retailers may be really worried about is lost sales if their license is revoked for selling to minors — not about affording the small annual license fee. 

While the arguments against licensing can be tough to handle, armed with great new data, advocates in California are prepared to fight for tobacco retailer licensing.

Related reading:
Cigarettes Generate Big Revenue for Convenience Stores  (The Center for Tobacco and Organizing, The American Lung Association in California)
Tobacco Retailer Licensing: Rural California Poll  (The Center for Tobacco and Organizing, The American Lung Association in California)
Tobacco Retailer Licensing is Effective   (The Center for Tobacco and Organizing, The American Lung Association in California)

Suggested Resources:
The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing (American Lung Association in California)

Naomi Goldberg: Making the case that all children matter

Naomi Goldberg works as a researcher for the Movement Advancement Project.  In this article, she discusses a new report that offers detailed recommendations for eliminating or reducing inequities and improving the lives of children with LGBT parents.  

Last week, the Movement Advancement Project released a comprehensive report about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families. The report was coauthored by the Center for American Progress and the Family Equality Council, while report partners include the National Association of Social Workers, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and COLAGE.

This report is groundbreaking for several reasons. First, it pulls together all the best and most current research about who LGBT families are – what do LGBT families look like? Where do they live?

The report also makes use of one of the few health surveys  to collect data on lesbian, gay and bisexual people: the California Health Interview Survey,  CHIS 2009 data are used in the report to estimate that 19 percent of lesbian women and 29 percent of bisexual women in California are raising kids, compared to 4 percent of gay men and 7 percent of bisexual men.

The report also examines in great detail the many challenges faced by LGBT families, including the obstacles faced by LGBT parents in legally adopting a child, or the inability of an LGBT family to be counted as a family when applying for many safety net programs, including child care assistance. CHIS data also provide important insight here, too, including the fact that 50 percent of “poor” LGB Californians with kids were food-insecure compared to 41 percent of comparable heterosexual Californian families. 

Finally, this report provides dozens of commonsense recommendations on how to ensure that all American children have access to stable, loving homes, economic security and good health and well-being.

Related reading:
All Children Matter  (Movement Advancement Project)
Facts for Families: Children with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents  (American Academy of Child & Adolescents Psychiatry)

Suggested resources:
Movement Advancement Project  
California Health Interview Survey (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research)

New campaign seeks to tackle child obesity in California

According to state officials, one of every three children in California is obese or overweight, and this affects their health and success in school.  Chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and obesity lead to more absenteeism and worse school performance, which is also costly for schools.

For example, the Ventura County Star recently reported that in Ventura if every student were absent one day a year, it would cost the district $683,500.  

Quoted in the story is State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, who recently launched the Team California for Healthy Kids campaign. The campaign seeks to:

  • Increase physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) throughout the day, every day, in schools and communities.
  • Increase access to water and fresh foods, particularly salad bars.
  • Increase access to drinking water.

As part of the campaign, Torlakson says that athletes and others involved in the campaign will be visiting schools throughout the state to encourage healthier behaviors. The Team’s co-chairs are Paris, ultramarathonman Dean Karnazes, fitness expert Lorrie Sullenberger, Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Bill Walton, and Toni Yancey, a faculty associate at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, an expert on physical fitness, and the author of “Instant Recess,” a book of tips and techniques to get more active at school, home and work.

November 1st, National health equity coalition- national call to action webinar

Congress’ new plan to reduce the national debt proposes significant cuts to federal programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, WIC, SNAP, Head Start and many other programs vital to the economic safety of low-income families across the country, particularly racial and ethnic minority communities, seniors citizens, and the working poor.  

A webinar hosted by the National Health Equity Coalition will be held on November 1st, 3pm in order to disucss the impact of such a plan and what people can do to help ensure that congress does not “take a step backwards in the growing movement for health equity and the elimination of health disparities.”

 Tuesday, November 1, 2011
 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM EDT
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now

Katie Balderas: Cleaning up asthma triggers in Los Angeles

Katie Balderas works as a Policy Liaison for Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control and Prevention Program, Project TRUST and is active member of the Asthma Coalition of Los Angeles County.  In this article, she discusses the economic and social obstacles to combating asthma, as well as the legal and other steps families can take to improve the conditions that trigger asthma.

Every night in Los Angeles County, children with asthma wake up coughing and gasping for each breath. And each day, parents work tirelessly to provide a safe, healthy home for their kids to live in. Unfortunately, given the abundance of substandard housing and the limited availability of quality affordable housing, their efforts are wasted.

Mold lurks and spreads when old plumbing begins to leak. Trucks and cars clog nearby freeways and streets, filling the air with dust and fumes. Drifting tobacco smoke and cockroaches meander through cracks and crevices in the old, deteriorating buildings.

Meanwhile, emergency rooms and hospitals are filled with children with asthma, their lungs constricted and tight, making each breath a struggle. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to treat the symptoms of asthma when the triggers still remain inside their own home.

Meet Joanne

Joanne* is the primary caregiver for four of her grandchildren. Along with all of the kids, she also has asthma. The children also suffered from eczema and their asthma was not well controlled. They were using their rescue inhalers often, Joanne as much as two times per day. They had mold in their bathroom, rodents, and deteriorating kitchen tiles and missing ceiling paneling.

Why don’t they just move?
Many people in Joanne’s situation would try to move out of an unsafe or unhealthy home, but the costs associated with finding a new place to live and moving can be cost prohibitive for many families. Despite the fact that rent control helps families by keeping costs at a stable rate, it also discourages landlords from maintaining and repairing units until the end of a tenancy. Additionally, for many families, moving could result in a loss of an established social support network, like free childcare provided by nearby family or friends, the familiarity of a local grocery store, and the network of parents at their children’s school.

If the family is renting their home, why don’t they request that the landlord make repairs?

Legally, landlords are responsible to make necessary repairs to the property without retaliation, but in reality, many tenants are unaware of their rights and still fear eviction. Many families live barely within their means, and losing their home could swiftly leave them out on the streets. For many families, rent remains higher than they can afford, so they may live with another family, contributing to overcrowded conditions that could jeopardize their tenancy. Undocumented residents may fear deportation and avoid interaction with authorities, including city officials who could ultimately offer assistance. The sheer lack of knowledge and financial resources means that many landlords can get away with illegal and discriminatory practices against tenants.

On a larger scale, what is being done to address poor housing conditions in Los Angeles?

The Asthma Coalition of Los Angeles County, in its Call To Action, describes several evidence-based priority areas to promote healthy housing in Los Angeles County including:

1) Promote home-based interventions that provide families with home environment assessments, education and support, and assist with environmental remediation to reduce asthma triggers.
2) Conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about smoking as a trigger for asthma and encourage efforts to provide smoke-free apartment units as well as non-smoking common areas in apartment buildings and condos.
3) Require landlords to bring all properties up to health and safety standards, including the Los Angeles Housing Authority, and educate tenants about which City and County departments to call to report sub-standard conditions.

What steps can families take to reduce asthma triggers on their own?

Fortunately, many health providers and programs are working in local communities to gain the trust of residents and provide resources to empower them to achieve healthy housing. As patients of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in South Los Angeles, Joanne and her grandchildren received comprehensive health education and case management services.

The St. John’s Community Health Worker showed Joanne how to use non-toxic cleaning supplies to get rid of the mold in her bathroom. She also showed her how to keep the house clean using products that wouldn’t irritate their asthma, like baking soda and borax. Joanne learned how to use copper wool to plug up holes in the walls and other areas of the home to keep out the mice and rats. Joanne requested that her landlord make repairs in her kitchen. The landlord told her that because she had Section 8 he didn’t have to make repairs but Joanne knew her rights and she continued to push until the repairs were made. In addition to the actions taken by Joanne, families can also reduce asthma triggers by making their home a smoke-free environment, and by removing items that attract dust and mold, like plants and stuffed animals.

Now Joanne’s grandchildren are eczema free, and their use of their asthma rescue medications has significantly decreased. They no longer have any signs of rodents and Joanne’s health has also significantly improved. Prior to participating in St. John’s program, she was using her rescue inhaler at least twice a day and now it isn’t even used on a daily basis. Her whole family is healthier and now she knows how to keep them that way.

*Name has been changed to protect the confidentiality of the patient.

Suggested Resources:

Asthma Coalition of Los Angeles County (Los Angeles County Public Health Department)
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control and Prevention Program, Project TRUST
Turning Data into Action (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Health DATA Program)

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