(SAVANNAH, GA) Healthy Savannah is pleased to announce it has received the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2022 REACH Lark Galloway-Gilliam Award for Advancing Health Equity Challenge. The award recognizes extraordinary individuals and entities whose work has contributed to advancing health equity. Thamara Labrousse from Live Healthy Miami Gardens (Florida) was the individual award recipient.

Healthy Savannah board and staff members are joined by REACH grant supporters to receive the CDC’s REACH Lark Galloway-Gilliam Award for advancing health equity. Front row (L-R): Keon Green, Mati Chikawa, Elsie Smalls, Rhonda Barlow, Lillian Grant-Baptiste, Paula Kreissler and Johnathan Winbush. Back row (L-R): Nick Deffley, Nichele Hoskins, Armand Turner, Ashley Rainge, Virginia Dick, Marvin Lloyd, Melanie Willoughby, Tom Bullock and Larson Ashford.

“Health equity is at the center of the work we do at CDC, and we remain committed to achieving optimal health for all people,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “We are delighted to recognize Ms. Labrousse from Live Healthy Miami Gardens as well as Healthy Savannah for their work to improve the health and well-being of people in communities where they live, learn, work, and play.”

The REACH Lark Award is presented to individuals and organizations that have engaged with the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program to assist with and carry out culturally tailored interventions that advance health equity, reduce health disparities, and increase community engagement to address preventable health risks such as tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and inadequate access to clinical services.

Terry O’Toole, PhD, the chief of Program Development and Evaluation Branch for the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, presented the award on a closed Zoom channel to the Healthy Savannah Board and staff on Wednesday, July 20.

“The work Healthy Savannah is doing is well deserving of this award as it exemplifies the vision for the REACH Lark award,” said O’Toole. “The organization’s focus on working in communities that need it most, to reduce health disparities and increase health equity especially, particularly for communities of color and low income is a model for our state and for the country.”

“We’re so honored,” said Lillian Grant-Baptiste, chair of Healthy Savannah’s Board of Directors. “We don’t do the work we do to be thanked and appreciated. We do it to foster sustainable health equity, particularly among Black residents in Savannah’s low wealth neighborhoods. In conjunction with 200 partner organizations, we embrace an ‘upstream’ approach that is moving the needle to increase high-quality nutrition, create greater access to safe places to walk and ride bikes, and strengthen connections between people and healthcare providers.”

In September 2018, the CDC awarded Healthy Savannah and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia $3.4 million in REACH grant funding to foster sustainable health equity among Black residents in low-wealth neighborhoods. The grant administrators have since developed numerous programs and services to elevate the health and wellness of the community through policy, systems, and environmental change. The organizations were instrumental in helping pass Savannah’s Smokefree Air ordinance and also established the Faith and Health Coalition, a network of faith-based organizations partnering with local health-promoting agencies to encourage better health for these close-knit communities. The agencies are currently advocating a Healthy Checkout Initiative in local grocery stores and markets.

The award is named in honor of Lark Galloway-Gilliam, the founding executive director of Community Health Councils, Inc. (CHC). CHC was established in 1992 to support planning, resource development, and policy education in response to the growing health crisis in the South Los Angeles area and other under-resourced and marginalized communities throughout Los Angeles County. Lark led the CHC team to engage communities and strengthen the connections among organizations to improve health, eliminate disparities, and achieve health equity. Under Lark’s leadership, CHC became a leader in health equity in Los Angeles, across California, and the country. Lark also served in several leadership roles, including the first president of the National REACH Coalition, the MLK Medical center Advisory Board, and the IP3 Board of Directors for Community Commons.

For more information about the 2022 REACH Lark Award, visit the CDC online at https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0726-REACH-Lark-Award.html

ABOUT THE YMCA OF COASTAL GEORGIA/HEALTHY SAVANNAH GRANT FOR RACIAL AND ETHNIC APPROACHES TO COMMUNITY HEALTH: In September 2018, Healthy Savannah and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia were awarded a five-year, $3.4 million grant called Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. Awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the funding is being deployed in an “upstream” approach by the Savannah/Chatham County project team to foster sustainable health equity among Black residents in low-wealth neighborhoods. The aim of the local project, called Healthy Opportunities Powering Equity, or HOPE, is to increase the availability of high-quality nutrition; promote physical activity through creating greater access to safe places to walk, run, bike and play; and foster stronger connections between people and the healthcare providers who serve them. Working with more than 200 community partners and organizations, the team is committed to elevating the health and wellness of the community through policy, systems, and environmental change.
healthysavannah.org ymcaofcoastalga.org.

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