Nov. 20, 2015 | Twenty-five community groups were honored Nov. 13 for their contributions to research at the 3rd annual Community Partner Celebration sponsored by the UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI).
The celebration, at the Center at University Park in Little Rock, included welcome remarks from TRI Director Laura James, M.D., and UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. The keynote speaker was Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, M.P.H., founder of the Birthing Project USA, which began as a community project to assist pregnant women and has been replicated in other countries.
The key message to the 88 attendees representing 21 grassroots community organizations and four advisory boards, was how important their work is to finding solutions to society’s most challenging health problems.
Rahn noted that Arkansas ranks at or near the bottom on virtually every key measure of health. No matter how much knowledge there is about obesity, diabetes or cancer deaths, he said, it is of no value without new, innovative approaches to improving health.
“If we keep doing what we’ve been doing we’ll get what we already got,” Rahn said. “We don’t know what to do about the different health outcomes, the health disparities that disproportionately impact on people of color, people in rural areas, people in poverty, and people with low educational attainment.
“The future hinges on some new ways of thinking and developing new knowledge and new methodologies to actually change the future,” he added. “That’s what you can help us with. We thank you for doing this, we thank you for partnering with us. We truly need our partners to help us chart a course for a healthier tomorrow.”
James said the perspective of UAMS’ grassroots partners is key.
“We need to interact with our community partners, and we need to partner with you to do research that is the most meaningful to Arkansans,” James said. “What’s important about tonight is we are celebrating and thinking about how we can in partnership take scientific discoveries or new findings and push them into the homes and families and communities and churches out in the state to improve the health of our state.”
Featured speaker Hall-Trujillo, an Arkansas native whose Birthing Project has become an international model for helping pregnant women, praised the work of the attendees. A key to the success of her project was realizing the need for communities to understand how important systems and resources work, such as university, medical, education, housing and legal systems.
“The resources we brought to the table were partnered with people who had resources,” Hall-Trujillo said. “What we need to do is be the best relationship builders, the best ambassadors and best liaisons for the families we support. I can see by looking at this room, that that is exactly what you’re doing, and I applaud you for doing it, and I can see a better place.”
The community organizations honored this year are:
Arkansas Community Health Worker Association (ARCHWA)
Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind
Cisneros Center for New Americans
East Arkansas Family Health Center
El Zócalo Immigrant Resource Center
First Baptist Dew Drop Church
Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas
House of Benjamin
Human Rights Campaign
Lee County Cooperative Clinic
New Light MBC
Oak Forest United Methodist Church
Planting A Seed Foundation
Pleasant View Ministries Church
Regenerated Missionary Baptist Church
Rural Community Alliance
Seeds of Liberation
Washington Regional Medical Center Employee Education Department
Young Adult Opportunity Center
The community advisory boards honored this year are:
Arkansas Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Task Force
Thomas & Lyon Longevity Clinic Patient
and Family Advisory Council
TransForm Health Arkansas Research Working Group
UAMS Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council