4th Annual North Texas Health Forum kicks off National Public Health Week 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas

Posted Date: March 10, 2011

Featured topic:  Embracing our Community of African American Children

According to a recent research brief presented by the Center for Community Health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC), Fort Worth, in conjunction with Cook Children’s Health Care System and the Mental Health Association of Tarrant County, about 7 to 12 percent of North Texas children suffer from some type of emotional or behavioral issue.  Children with emotional issues, the report notes, are more likely than their peers to have academic or behavioral problems at school, to have been arrested or in trouble with the police, to have been suspended, to have bullied other children, to have been in more than one fight in the last year, and to have been cruel to animals.  These children are also significantly more likely to have ever attempted suicide, to have self-esteem and/or eating problems, to cut or hurt themselves, to experience sleep problems, and to have obsessive thoughts.  Boys are more likely than girls to suffer from these issues, and within racial/ethnic categories, the prevalence for the North Texas African American community is 8.5% (for the full November 2010 report, please visit http://www.centerforcommunityhealth.org/).

To address these important issues as part of National Public Health Week 2011, the UNTHSC School of Public Health will present the fourth annual North Texas Health Forum, a free community symposium focused on the emotional well-being of African American Children in Tarrant County, Texas.

The program is titled, “Embracing our Community of African Children,” and will be held April 7 and 8 on the school’s campus.

The objective of the program is to define the problem and present the root causes of emotional issues among children in Tarrant County, Texas, and begin the investigation of approaches for a fully-implemented system of care.  This program is open to all community members and is especially relevant for teachers/educators, professionals in the criminal justice system, health care workers, the faith community, nonprofit agencies and social service organizations.  The program is designed to help identify strategies to maximize opportunities for success among African American children in the local community; the program represents the second phase of community outreach targeted toward underserved Tarrant County populations as initiated at the 2010 North Texas Health Forum, which developed recommendations to improve infant mortality rates and improved overall quality of life.

The April 7 keynote speaker will be Alwyn Cohall, M.D., Director of the Harlem Health Promotion Center, one of 37 national Prevention Research Centers established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bridge academia and vulnerable communities.  Dr. Cohall also serves on the faculty of both the Mailman School of Public Health and the Department of Pediatrics at New York Presbyterian Hospital.  His clinical and research interests include adolescent health; reproductive health; access to health care, particularly for young men of color; and the use of technology for health communication/health promotion.  Dr. Cohall has directed the creation of a number of community outreach initiatives for underserved populations in New York City.

Dr. Cohall’s keynote address will begin at 6 p.m. on April 7 in the UNTHSC Medical Education and Training Building (MET), South Auditorium, with a reception to follow.

Dr. Cohall will also lead a special Student Session on the afternoon of April 7, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Everett Hall on the UNTHSC campus, Research and Education Building (RES).

The following day, on April 8, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the conference will feature panel presentations, roundtable breakouts, and a closing action session. This event will also be held in the university’s MET building.

Panelists will include the Reverend Kyev Tatum, pastor, Friendship Rock Baptist Church of Fort Worth, and Larry Tubb, senior vice president, Cook Children’s Health Care System, Fort Worth.

Registration is free by visiting http://ntxhealthforum.eventbrite.com/.  Seating is limited, and early registration is recommended.

The school’s Public Health Student Association (PHSA) also plans to recognize National Public Health Week through a series  of student events, including local high school visits/community outreach on April 4; an April 5 presentation by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional Director Marjorie McColl Petty, who covers Region VI across Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas; a career conversation with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on April 6; and a Student Appreciation Day celebration on April 8.