Did you know that in Hillsborough County, Latinos are more susceptible to heart disease, cancer and strokes than most other minorities? In fact, the Prevention Institute feels that these health disparities can be traced back to three telling factors that include a group’s income level, where they live, and race. These racial inequities have come to the forefront in Wimauma, an isolated, majority Latino community in South Hillsborough County.
Today, Latinos make up the largest and fastest growing population in South County and also display widening health disparities between them and other populations living in the same area. Although many researchers have studied the deep dilemmas of these marginalized Latino families in this community, few have asked “why the needs exist” and still have not engaged residents in defining their own solutions.
Well aware of the health conditions in Wimauma, the Hispanic Services Council launched an aggressive initiative called Bridges to Health aimed at addressing these issues from “within” the community. Our three-year initiative focuses on building the capacity of Latino residents in South County’s rural areas to play a leadership role in creating strategies that will close the health disparities gap where they live and work.
Our experience in working directly with over 600 families provides evidence of the well intended, but ineffectiveness of health programs that serve “one person at a time.” They do not address or change the underlying conditions that will continue to cause health, educational and economic disparities today and for generations to come.
By addressing these health issues from the inside, South County residents develop a collective understanding of the social, economic and environmental conditions that affect the health of their community. They can then, as one unified voice, take a leadership role in determining their community’s health outcomes and develop a plan of action to achieve their goals.
The Hispanic Services Council serves as the community facilitator, engaging residents and stakeholders committed to addressing South County’s health disparity goals. Together, we’re hoping to bridge the health disparity gap and create a smarter, happier, healthier community that’s ready to impact the future of Hillsborough County.
Join us in making a difference! You can attend our monthly meetings – host a “healthy living and eating” neighborhood circle – volunteer to support after school programs and more! For more information on the Bridges to Health initiative, call 813-936-7700, ext. 204 or e-mail us today.
Bridges to Health