Hispanic Heritage Month: Engaging Communities along the Border

October 18th, 2021 | Story

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This year, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a team of JSI staff, led by Andrea Royo and Rodolfo Vega, organized presentations that reflected the diversity of culture and examined the health inequities that Hispanic and Latinx communities experience.

JSI works year-round with Hispanic and Latinx communities across the nation to improve health outcomes and promote equity through health communication campaigns, training and technical assistance, participatory research, and more. Because of the vastness of the Hispanic and LatinX community, one-type-fits-most approaches to improving health outcomes are ineffective. JSI strives to understand the environment in which its projects will be implemented. Behaviors and social determinants of health, such as employment, discrimination, cost of living, environment, and education, must be considered if health programs are to succeed.

Through the Para Prevenir (To Prevent) project, JSI, National Community Health Partners, Inc., Old Town Health Clinic, and 100 Angels are launching a campaign to overcome COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in communities along the 2,000-mile Arizona-Mexico border.

Rudy and Andrea spent a week talking with people in Yuma, Pima, Cochise, and Santa Cruz counties, each of which has a unique culture and identity. They met with promotores (health promoters), health workers, city government and community leaders, and faith-based organizations and school representatives to ensure their involvement in the message development process. The culturally competent campaign messages will be conveyed through local radio, print, and social media channels.

Involving the community in developing solutions (or a campaign, in this case) from the beginning is a core component of JSI’s approach. By working across social sectors and with the community rather than applying a pre-existing template, JSI builds programs that people need and want.

“The community IS the table, and it’s our role to pass the mic,” said Andrea.

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end, JSI will continue to engage with and represent the diverse Hispanic and Latinx voices to ensure they lead conversations on the needs of their community.

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