Participants at the train-the-trainer session for Peer Health Coordinators.
To counter the high rates of high blood pressure in the Bronx, five Bronx Health REACH Coalition churches are implementing a Faith-Based Hypertension Initiative. Modeled on Bronx Health REACH’s successful Fine, Fit and Fabulous program, the seven week program will help participants develop healthy eating habits based on the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH Eating Plan). To support the lessons on healthy eating, there are healthy cooking demonstrations, and a bodega, supermarket or farmers' market tour. Though exercise is not a part of the program, participants are encouraged to set up a daily physical activity plan they can stick to. Feedback from program coordinators at participating churches suggest that things are going well.
"Our Hypertension program happens every Saturday following our weekly exercise program," said Deacon Dorothy Faison, a Peer Health Coordinator for the program at Cosmopolitan Church of the Lord Jesus. "We have more than 20 members participating and they are all very excited. The Participant Guide created for this program is great."
The special feature of the program is the recognition that for faith based health programs to work, a link must be made between the health content and the cultural values of faith. To ensure that link is made for the Faith-Based Hypertension Program each workshop begins and ends with a prayer and a bible verse that supports a healthy lifestyle.
The program, scheduled to run through June 30th, is funded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as part of their High Blood Pressure Neighborhood Organizations program.