The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, along with the city, the community, and the board of Brownsville were awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health prize for their efforts to promote the health and a healthier life of their population.
The award, sponsored by the RWJF and by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, recognizes the joint work of institutions across the country to “build a national culture of health,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF’s president and CEO, adding that the awarded communities are “inspiring examples of what is possible when all sectors work together.”
According to the information provided by the university, UT Health’s Brownsville campus has been working with the city’s public health department, the community, and the Brownsville advisory board, among others, to develop several new health programs, such as the bilingual “Tu Salud!Sí Cuenta!,” a campaign to promote chronic disease prevention, which includes free exercise and nutrition classes, the CycloBia, a program for running, walking, cycling, and The Challenge, a contest to loose weight and promote active lifestyles.
In addition, the partners implemented a Master Hike and Bike Plan and a complete streets resolution that requires streets to be planned, designed and maintained to enable a safe access for users of all ages and abilities.
All of these programs and initiatives are a result of a 10-year collaboration “to improve health through research, implementation of evidence-based programs, mass-media strategies and policy and environmental change initiatives,” said Belinda Reininger, associate professor of health promotion and behavioral science at the Brownsville campus.
To the city’s commissioner, Rose Gowen, the success of this joint work to build a “healthier city” of Brownsville depends on a “continued engagement and support of city and community leaders, as well as the community itself” adding that this grant should be seen as a starting point to “capitalize on the momentum to ensure health and prosperity for all our citizens.”
As for Arturo Rodriguez, Brownsville public health department director and alumnus of the UTHealth, this award is a support in Brownsville’s mission “to sustain its efforts toward becoming a healthier city.”
Brownsville was chosen from more than 250 prize applications. The city will receive a $25,000 prize.