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Separate and Unequal: The Prevailing Health Inequities in Detroit Detroit, MI

The purpose of this Alternative Break program is to learn about the path that is building towards health equity in Detroit, Michigan. The primary goal of this program is to engage participants in meaningful conversations with leaders, each other, the representatives of the partner organizations that we will be collaborating with, as well as individuals who have been disproportionately affected by the public health system in their community. Unfortunately, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, we will also be learning from these individuals and partners first-hand about how such circumstances have contributed further to the ailment and struggle in access to adequate healthcare for Detroit’s marginalized communities. 

Research has indicated that more than 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan are Black people, although only 14% of Michiganders are Black. Thus, existing disparities in health have been exacerbated. While this program intends to focus on Detroit, it will also address the existing health inequities that remain rampant in various cities and rural areas around the U.S. The root causes of health inequity have stemmed from socioeconomic status, inadequate housing, structural racism, and many other social determinants. Therefore, it is crucial to address why health issues that have been identified in communities many years ago have not decreased significantly. With virtual engagement, we will tackle and understand the priorities of health systems in the U.S and why treatment differs for every single person. Health care is a fundamental human right, however, there are barriers in the status quo that hinder accessibility. 

Through different virtual methods this program will explore public health modules and examine case studies. We will connect with community partners and explore a mentorship program to encourage youth from non-profits to connect with participants to share experiences and prepare an activism project.

*Exact program scheduling is subject to change. Participants will commit to 6 pre-program one-hour meetings between February 4 - March 19, exact time will be determined in early Spring 2021 semester. If you have immediate questions please contact altbreak@american.edu 

Linsay Sarfo is from The Bronx, NY. She is a third-year Public Health Scholar majoring in Public Health on the Pre-Med track. She is passionate about maternal health, marginalized communities, and access to healthcare. Linsay’s experience has involved gender-based issues, food access, environmental racism, and healthcare. Growing up in New York City, she has seen how resources fail to be allocated toward communities in need. She believes health systems need to go beyond ensuring access to health care and invest in projects and organizations that address social determinants of health. She is excited about leading this Alternative Break and hopes to use her voice to address health disparities and advocate for health equity.

Linsay Alt Break Leader Spring

Tenzin Choezin is a senior and third-year Public Health Scholar majoring in Public Health and on the Pre-Med track. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, she is the proud daughter of Tibetan refugees. Growing up, Tenzin has heard stories upon stories about the tumultuous situations her older siblings, parents, and grandparents experienced first-hand as refugees due to the genocide that forced them to flee their homeland. Learning about the negative health outcomes that many of her loved ones were afflicted by because of their social determinants has motivated Tenzin to take the initiative to learn more about marginalized communities who are being disproportionately impacted. She vows to fight alongside these communities to reduce and eliminate health disparities in the status quo to reach health equity and create a healthier and equal society. 

Tenzin Alt Break Leader Spring

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Day One: On Saturday, we will be introducing our plan for this Alternative break and meet with two non-profit organizations. We will learn about their mission/objectives and what they do for the Detroit community regarding public health. We will have discussions and will conclude in preparation for the following weekend.

9:00 AM - Welcome and Introductions

9:15 AM - Opener activity 

9:30 AM - Recap of important health concepts/terms

10:05 AM - Why we chose to focus on Detroit & the United States

10:10 AM Creating "norms"/establishing a safe space 

10:25 AM - Summary/Overview of organizations we will be interacting with 

10:30 AM - Preliminary reflection questions (5 mins to think independently, 5 min breakout group)

10:40 AM - Reconvene as a group to discuss

10:50 AM - Meet with a representative from Focus: HOPE

11:20 AM - A Q&A session with the representative 

11:30 AM - Reflection

12:00 PM - Lunch Break

1:00 PM - Our introduction of the organization, Time with a representative of the Covenant House

1:50 PM  - Q&A with organization

2:00 PM - Conclusion of organization

2:05 PM - Discussion/Review of the day

2:15 - What to look forward to next training/Closing Remarks for Day One

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Day Two: On the following Saturday, we will begin the day examining case studies to analyze the issues present in various scenarios. We will meet with the Ruth Ellis Center and have a small mentorship discussion with their youth. We will also meet with Mothering Justice to see how health equity has affected mothers in Detroit. Then, we will do a social media activism project and conclude the day.

9:00 AM-10 AM- Health Equity Case Study to begin the session & Participants will analyze the issues present

10 AM - 10:45- Introduction to Ruth Ellis Center Organization

10:45-11:00 AM- 15 minute Break out rooms with youth from the Ruth Ellis Center (mentorship/ share experiences & stories)

11:00 AM TO 11:30 AM- Reconvene with larger group and discuss importance 
-Incorporate COVID, PPE, other cities, and rural areas into conversation

11:30 AM to 12:45PM- BREAK

12:45 AM to 1:15 PM- Discuss with Mothering Justice about how health equity has affected mothers in Detroit

1:15PM to 2:00PM- Social Media Activism Project

2:00PM-2:10PM- Ending Remarks for the day 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Day Three: On Sunday, we will be taking an hour to discuss the takeaways from the Alt Break and health equity in the time of COVID-19. We will also be playing a virtual game and discussing how we can further this conversation in our own communities.