The Health in the Neighborhood Initiative
Poor health is the top socioeconomic challenge facing the Black community. The premature death rate among blacks is higher than any other group in the United States, while the quality of life, measured in health terms, is the lowest. Blacks cannot meet successfully other challenges if their bodies are ravaged with disease and they die prematurely. The UB Center for Urban Studies is working with other organizations and groups to attack this problem at three interrelated levels: (1) health disparities and social wellbeing (2) changes in the medical school curriculum and (3) the transformation, recreation, and regeneration of underdeveloped neighborhoods. Toward this end, the UB Center is working on three local initiatives.
African American Health Disparities Task Force.
The mission of the Task Force is to eliminate race/ethnicity-based health disparities in Buffalo’s predominantly Black East Side community. To advance this mission, the Task Force is working to establish a Center of Health Disparities that will lead, plan and coordinate efforts around research, advocacy, community mobilization and neighborhood transformation.
IDM 560 S: Health in the Neighborhood (Jacobs Medical School).
Health in the Neighborhood is an electronic/experiential pre-clinical medical school elective offered on Wednesday afternoons during the spring semester. It addresses these issues in collaboration with The Martin Luther King Community, Hopewell Baptist Church, UB Center for Urban Studies, and Greater Buffalo United Ministries.
The course is composed of on-line discussion with students and faculty, sessions in The Martin Luther King Neighborhood, and class discussion at the medical school. Course work and class time is designed to require a usual time commitment of three hours per week. Grading is Pass/Fail, and there is no final exam.
Students visit and tour the MLK neighborhood; meet with community members and leaders; visit with neighborhood host families (cultural guides); learn about health resources and public health services in the neighborhood and East Side of Buffalo; and speak to community stakeholders about allocation of funds for public services to the MLK neighborhood. Students read on-line relevant medical, sociological, and popular literature about health inequities and disparities, as well as about life in underdeveloped Black neighborhoods. They will keep reflective on-line logs of their weekly experiences.
King Urban Life Center and Neighborhood Regeneration.
The UB Center partners with the King Urban Life Center (KULC) to carry out its mission of providing educational, social, and cultural programs in the neighborhoods, while collaborating with the residents to bring about its recreation and regeneration. Professor Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. is the vice-president of the Board of Directors and the Center is working on an innovative neighborhood transformation plan.