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Call to Action Grants

Two AHS researchers receive Call To Action funding for 2021-22

Two projects led by AHS researchers received grants as part of the university’s 2021-2022 Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program.

The first, with KCH Associate Professor Andiara Schwingel as the principal investigator, is entitled "Online Certificate Programs for Community Health Workers (CHW): From overlooked and under-researched employees to well-equipped frontline agents in the fight to reduce health disparities in communities of color."

Using a community-based participatory research approach, Schwingel and her team—which includes KCH Assistant Professor Susie Aguinaga—plan to establish a coalition that includes CHWs, Illinois researchers, University of Illinois Extension, and the Illinois Community Health Workers Association (ILCHWA) to develop, evaluate, and disseminate online learning strategies through certificate programs that will train CHWs to address their community health needs. Funding for the project is $100,000.

Currently in Illinois, the researchers say, the CHW field largely depends on employer-provided on-the-job training. There is no standardization and the length and scope of training varies a great deal from employer to employer. The key deliverables include a series of online certificate programs available in both English and Spanish.

Other collaborators are Brandi Barnes, Research Development Manager, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute; Jennifer McCaffrey, Assistant Dean, Family and Consumer Sciences, Illinois Extension; Ruby Mendenhall, Associate Professor in Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, and Social Work; Leticia Boughton Price, CEO/President, Illinois Community Health Workers Association, and Wandy Hernandez-Gordon, Cofounder/VP, Illinois Community Health Workers Association.

The second, with RST Professor Monika Stodolska as the PI and RST Professor Kim Shinew as the co-PI, is entitled, “Combating Systemic Racism in Access to Nature, Open Spaces, and Parks and Recreation Resources.” Corky Emberson and Elsie Hedgspeth of the Urbana Park District are the community collaborators. The grant amount is $93,428.

The study will provide a formal evaluation of the steps undertaken by the Urbana Park District to better serve their residents of color, identify additional strategies UPD can employ to engage local residents of color, and create a road map for other public recreation and natural resource agencies across the U.S. on how to address systemic racism in access to nature and recreational resources among people of color.

RST undergraduate and graduate students will be involved in the study through interview/questionnaire development, data collection and analyses, and implementation and dissemination findings. The study’s primary deliverable, the Strategies to Address Racism and Social Injustice in Recreation (SARSIR) blueprint, will be integrated into the curriculum in general education and core courses (RST 120: Parks, Recreation and Environments, RST 230: Diversity in Recreation, Sport and Tourism, and RST 317: Designing Parks and Recreation Experiences) and students will be able to implement the blueprint through their experiential coursework and internships. 

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