The Alive Church Network (ACN) is a group of researchers, pastors and church members who are committed to working in partnership to reduce health disparities and improve the health of Chicago’s underserved communities. Pastors in the ACN are from communities that experience high levels of violence, morbidity and mortality due to systemic inequities that result from structural racism.
The vision of the ACN is to serve as a cross-church Health Ministry to provide evidence-based health programming in under-resourced churches to improve health. ACN programs are designed to address the underlying causes of poor health in underserved communities including social determinants, poor access to care, high levels of mistrust and poor health literacy.
Pastors in the ACN are prominent community leaders who provide numerous social services for their communities. Health programming offered by the ACN targets church members as well as members of surrounding communities. The ACN also provides wellness support and training for pastors, who experience extreme stress due to their role as first responders to the violence and trauma that unfortunately permeates their communities.
To identify and prioritize health needs among church members and residents of surrounding communities the ACN conducted a large health screening in 2018 which included clinical and laboratory evaluation. Results indicated a high prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors (many of which increase clinical severity of COVID-19) as well as a high level of social needs (67% reported at least one social risk factor such as food insecurity). Enrollment in the health screening (1106 participants), which included 40% who were non-church members, exceeded our target recruitment goals by over 300%, demonstrating the effectiveness of the ACN outreach and mobilization strategies. The ACN has been particularly effective at recruiting and engaging hard to reach individuals who are unlikely to participate in traditional clinical research.
In response to the needs which were identified in the health screening, the ACN has worked to tailor evidence-based health programming specifically for their communities in order to address the health issues and social determinants that are most devastating to community members. Programs include:
· mental health training programs for church members and pastors
· weight-loss intervention
· pre-diabetes intervention
· intervention to improve physical function
· blood pressure interventions
ALIVE CHURCH NETWORK PROGRAMS
· COVID-19 Vaccine Preparation
· Covid-19 Testing Intervention
· Heart 2 Heart Blood Pressure Program
· Pastor’s Wellness Program
· Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Program
· Keep it Movin’
· Feeding the Body, Mind, and Soul
· Mental Health Programming
To learn more - contact LaDawne_Jenkins@Rush.edu
Visit the Pastors page to see the ACN pastors who are committed to reducing health disparities and improving the health of Chicago's underserved communities.