MCC 2009 Spirit of Collaboration Award Winner Body & Soul
About the Initiative Body & Soul partners with many organizations addressing faith-based African American communities. Because Body & Soul addresses chronic disease, the scope of collaboration includes cancer and other chronic diseases. With each agency, the collaboration takes on a different focus:
Ann Arbor - University of Michigan (U of M)
Body & Soul continues their three-year partnership with U of M Community Outreach. Currently, 11 churches in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have been able to conduct Breast Cancer Health Forums, Men Health Forums with a focus on prostate cancer and physical activity, and a viewing of Unnatural Causes that helped church coordinators understand the heavy burden that social class and economics play in health outcomes.
Detroit – Ford Hospital Your Journey to Wellness
Body & Soul partners with Ford Hospital’s Your Journey to Wellness program by establishing a health ministry or committee. Over 10 churches now receive continued support from both the American Cancer Society (ACS) through Body & Soul and Ford Hospital with their wealth of medical resources. These churches are now the leaders in health ministry and several other agencies find it much easier to address the many health issues that exist within the Detroit area through these new Body & Soul churches.
Progressive Baptist Churches
This past year, all of the National Progressive Baptist Churches were trained on Body & Soul; many of these 11 churches already had established health ministries. With the assistance of Elanin Lee, who is the national president of health ministries for National Progressive Baptist Churches and lives in Detroit, this partnership serves both groups well. These churches have health on their agenda now that they have additional resources to give support to their efforts. There is a strong focus on eating more fruits and vegetables and physical activity, all of which also decrease the risk for some types of cancers.
Flint now has 22 churches that fully implement Body & Soul. The local church leadership acknowledges Body & Soul as one of the most successful health-related programs Flint has seen in a long time. Churches are going to the Farmers Market and working with the YMCA to provide guidance on physical activity. Through ACS, they are addressing the senior population to ensure that seniors know screening guidelines and understand how to use cancer-related resources. Body and Soul is a door opener for health for the underserved.
Saginaw has two Body & Soul churches with the help of HUGG Black Nurses of Saginaw. They have worked to pilot Body and Soul in two churches that now have full health ministries. They conducted health fairs and want to gather other volunteers to further implement this program that empowers churches and congregations to make health a priority.
Grand Rapids is working with Spectrum Health and Omni Health and ACS through a grassroots initiative to reach the underserved. The Body & Soul program was the perfect vehicle to open the door to churches that could help each agency share their programs and resources with the African American community and the underserved. Grand Rapids has 21 churches that implement the Body & Soul program.
Impetus for the Collaboration Within many cultural communities, the church is the foundation of social interaction and change; this is where the community comes for support, both spiritual and social. The church for many ethnic minority groups will continue to be the best source to reach population in large numbers. Body & Soul is evidence-based and is working.
Churches are developing their own programs internally.
Ministers, pastors and priests are the leaders of the church, and when health is important to them, then health becomes important to their congregations. We start with getting the buy in from the church leadership. Their congregations are part of the community, and from their congregations, change flows all around and back again.
Many are reaching out into their community and helping to support the health education of their area. The church is being empowered to create positive change connecting health and spirituality.
Lessons Learned This is not the quick fix for the African American community to create change. This process is sure and slow and lasting. Trust and understanding must be established over the long term. Health disparities is a complicated issue and will not be changed overnight. In combination with other effort programs, Body & Soul can have a long lasting effect on the health outcomes for the underserved.
“Body & Soul” received the Michigan Cancer Consortium’s 2009 Spirit of Collaboration Award. The annual award is presented to member organizations that have done outstanding collaborative work to significantly move comprehensive cancer control activities forward in Michigan.
Learn More For more information about this project, please contact Voncile Brown-Miller of the American Cancer Society, Great Lakes Division, Inc.at 248-663-3416 (e-mail:email@example.com).