May 16, 2012

The School of Public Health hosted more than 100 senior citizens and high school students from Seat Pleasant, Md. on May 11, 2012, for a half-day summit to develop strategies to combat diabetes and other chronic diseases in this community. The third annual Seat Pleasant Health Summit was the result of an ongoing partnership between the city and our CDC-funded Prevention Research Center to reduce health disparities in this predominantly African-American community. Located in Prince George's County along the northeast border with Washington, DC, Seat Pleasant is chronically underserved by health-care providers and resources, and has disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension, as well as HIV/AIDS. "The health summit reflects our school's commitment to engaging the community in the effort to solve public health challenges," says Dean Robert Gold. Seat Pleasant residents joined university faculty, students and staff in a series of mini-workshops on diabetes, nutrition, sexually transmitted diseases, high blood pressure and exercise. In addition to the Prevention Research Center, some of the school's other leading research units, including the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy and the Department of Kinesiology, were involved in planning the summit, as well as University of Maryland Extension. Dr. Bradley Boekeloo, director of the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center and Eugene W. Grant, mayor of Seat Pleasant, have collaborated to organize two previous summits in Seat Pleasant to address some of the most challenging health conditions in the region. This year's summit was the first to take place on the University of Maryland campus. "The summit was a wonderful and fun learning opportunity for community residents and for our faculty, staff, and students alike," said Dr. Brad Boekeloo. "We hope that some of the Seat Pleasant high school students may be inspired to pursue education and careers in public health as a result." Mayor Grant sent a combination of young people and seniors to the summit in an effort to foster intergenerational understanding of the community's health concerns and to engage residents in creatively solving these problems as a community. The summit was designed to be interactive and fun, and to provide concrete actions for personal behavior change and for sharing what's learned with others. A mini research activity, in which participants responded to questions about their health status and their perceptions of community health outcomes using "clickers" showed the importance of data collection to improve health in the community, county, state and beyond. The event was made possible in part with support from Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. Photo: Dr. Bonnie Braun, Dr. Brad Boekeloo, and Mayor Eugene Grant View more photos from the Third Annual Seat Pleasant Health Summit.