The Protector of West Louisville
SPONSORED BY Lean Into Louisville
By Tiffany White | Photo by Kylene White
Jan Rogers, the Coordinator for Healthy Babies Louisville, and the Department’s new Parent Empowerment Board is ensuring that West Louisville residents have a voice in building a healthy, vibrant community. She and her colleagues are achieving this by inviting the community to share solutions and make decisions to guide the work of public health and health systems. They are building relationships with residents and community-based organizations to advance positive change.
Jan says she wants people to understand that health equity means that everyone has access to the opportunities they need to be healthy and thrive regardless of identity, neighborhood, and socio-economic status. And achieving health equity will require all of us to work together. “The environment in which you live, grow, play, work and age has more of an influence on health than personal choices and clinical health care.”, she says. “There are higher levels of toxins and pollutants, fewer healthy food options, and less green space in some neighborhoods. These are the things that we don’t necessarily pay attention to but influence our health greatly.” Jan and Healthy Babies Louisville partners are bringing these issues to the forefront – and letting the residents take the lead.
“It is rewarding to see that transition, that shift in power to the community.”
Funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention led to the creation of the Parent Empowerment Board, an advisory board of parents from communities impacted by health inequities. They are paid as public health consultants, representing, and engaging their communities, and informing programs, policies, and funding decisions. Parent Empowerment Board members also connect neighbors, friends and other community members to services and volunteer with partnering organizations including The Ready4K Alliance, March of Dimes, and Catholic Charities.
Mental health is another component of the group’s work within West Louisville.
Last summer, alongside Ana’Neicia Williams LCSW, PMH-C of Momology Wellness Club, they hosted community healing circles that addressed men’s mental health, grief, parent guilt, and postpartum mental health. Jan, who also works as a doula, says being a source of support for others is joyful. “I have always been passionate about helping others in any capacity. [At an early age], I decided that all of my jobs would involve helping people,” she said. Jan gets satisfaction from ensuring that community voice is prioritized in advocacy efforts. “It is rewarding to see that transition, that shift in power to the community, since the community has a stake in this.”
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