Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices. Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Autism Awareness Fri, 18 May 2018 14:47:00 +0000 As we commemorate autism awareness month, let us embrace the Autism Society's challenge to go beyond autism awareness and learn to accept and appreciate individuals with autism.

One way to increase acceptance is by fostering autism friendly spaces. According to the organization Autism Friendly Spaces Unlocking Minds and Spaces - A space is autism friendly when it accommodates and supports the sensory, communication, and social/emotional needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Being autism friendly is different from being sensory friendly. While individuals with autism benefit from adjustments to sensory (noise, smells, and visual) stimuli, being autism friendly also requires making adjustments that support challenges with language, social skills, and repetitive/rigid behaviors. Making something autism friendly also requires the introduction of visual supports to make the environment more predictable and address challenges with transitions, as well as tools to address difficulties with social interaction and perspective taking.

To learn more about autism please refer to the autism society link below. To find out more about autism friendly spaces visit


March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Mon, 19 Mar 2018 12:31:00 +0000 March was first declared National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month back in 1999. It is during this month that we take the time to bring awareness to the prevention and symptoms of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. These two cancers are often paired together as they have several features in common. Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as a growth called a polyp which is found on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. It is important to note that not all polyps become cancer. Many factors determine the likelihood of a polyp becoming cancer including the type, size, and number of polyps found. It is critical to have all polyps examined by your health care professional.

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Change in bowel habits
  • Feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue

If you notice blood in your stool or an ongoing change in bowel habits, make an appointment with your physician.


General guidelines recommend colorectal cancer screenings begin at age 50. If you have a family history, or several risk factors, your doctor may recommend earlier screening.

Reducing your risk

Common lifestyle choices which are recommended for prevention of many other chronic disease are suggested to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
  • Maintain a healthy weight

What You Need to Know about HIV/AIDS Wed, 13 Dec 2017 15:08:00 +0000 Yes, December 1st is National World AIDS Day, but we cannot stop there……

While December 1st is Worlds AIDS Day, a day that gives us an opportunity to come together and unite to stop new HIV infections, support those that have been affected and remember those who have lost their lives to HIV-related disease, we must continue to unite and bring awareness to this public health threat all year.

This is why I have decided to use this month's blog to highlight HIV/AIDS and the great accomplishments and strides that has been made.

It is estimated that 36.7 million people are living with HIV worldwide and among those 36.7 million; 19.5 million have received treatment since its peak of this epidemic in 2005. With that said, there is more work still need to be done. In 2016, there were 1.8 million new incidence of HIV and 1 million deaths due to AIDS-related causes.

So what can you do about it?

Know your risk

  • If you have multiple sex partners
  • If you have or are having sex with an HIV-positive partner
  • If you are a sexually active gay or bisexual man
  • You share needles to inject drugs
  • You are positive for other Sexually Transmitted Illnesses (STIs)

**If one of more of these apply to you, you are at higher risk

Get Tested

  • Ask your doctor for a HIV test, or find a testing site near you.
  • Visit
  • locate a testing center near you
  • Text your zip code to KNOW IT (566849) or call 1-800-CDC-INFO(232-4636) to
  • Call Illinois Department of Public Health Hotline at 800-243-2437
Get Involved
  • EDUCATE yourself and those around you
  • Help PREVENT the spread of the disease
  • INSPIRE someone else by bringing awareness to the issue and creating a change

Local testing sites and information:

Free clinic hours and locations:

Englewood STI Specialty Clinic
641 W. 63rdSt., Lower Level
Phone: 312.747.8900
Fax: 312.747.5275
Mon., Wed., Fri.: 8 am - 4 pm
Tue., Thu.: 9 am - 5 pm

Roseland STI Specialty Clinic
200 E. 115thSt.
Phone: 312.747.0054
Fax: 312.747.2841
Mon.: 8 am - 4 pm
Thurs.: 9 am - 5 pm

Austin STI Specialty Clinic
4909 W. Division, Suite 411
Phone: 312.746.4871
Mon., Wed., Fri: 8 am - 4 pm
Tue., Thurs: 9 am - 5 pm

Lakeview STI Specialty Clinic
2849 N. Clark, 1st Fl
Phone: 312.744.5507
Mon., Wed., Fri.: 8am - 4pm
Tue., Thurs.: 10am - 6pm

November is COPD Awareness Month Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000 November is the time of year that the American Lung Association asks us to bring our attention to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a progressive, chronic lung disease that over time makes it hard to breathe. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States. While there is no cure for COPD, the good news is COPD is often preventable and treatable.

What happens is cases of COPD, is the airways in the lungs become inflamed and thicken, and the tissue where oxygen is exchanged is destroyed. This causes the flow of air in and out of the lungs to decrease, ultimately making it harder to remain active.

The main cause of COPD is smoking, yet nonsmokers can also get the disease. Other factors which contribute to COPD include long-term exposure to air pollution, secondhand smoke and dust and fumes and chemicals. There is also a rare form of COPD (alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema) which is genetically inherited.

While symptoms are often not recognized until later stages of the disease, individuals with COPD may experience chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, wheezing, shortness of breath, producing a lot of mucus and fatigue. Please contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms, as early treatment is crucial to successful treatment.

In order to diagnose COPD, your doctor will conduct a physical exam, laboratory tests and ask questions about family history of respiratory illness and your symptoms. Once COPD is diagnosed, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment options for you. Treatments may include:

  • Medication
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise and coping with emotions
  • Surgery – in cases of severe COPD (not everyone is a candidate for lung surgery)

If you are concerned about getting COPD, don't smoke, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, protect yourself against exposure to chemicals, dust and fumes in your home and at work and help fight for clean air in your community.

Source: American Lung Association.

Health Apps- A Complementary Tool in Health Promotion Mon, 23 Oct 2017 14:35:00 +0000 We live in a technology driven society. Our youth do not know what life was like before cell phones, computers and the internet. While technology can contribute to an increasing array of health problems like sedentary life styles, many health educators are leveraging the power of technology and social media to advance health promotion activities and to encourage healthier lifestyles.

Health apps are one of the tools used to promote healthy lifestyles such as making healthy food choices, increasing physical activity, tracking and monitoring chronic conditions, and improving sleep and relaxation. Other apps that can be a useful complement to health education programs include breast feeding apps, and baby care apps. Please see the list below for a sample assortment of apps to suit your needs.

Eating Healthy/Physical Activity                                                     



Calorie counter, helps track food and exercise


Create meal plans, track calories and daily steps


Track steps and more


Track water intake

Chronic Conditions


Sugar counts, carbs and more.


For types 1 and 2 diabetes. Tracks A1C, body weight, ketones, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.

BG Monitor

Diabetes tracking

Sleep and Relaxation

Sleep Cycle

Track sleep data

Sleep Well

Free hypnotherapy and meditation recordings


Guided meditations to reduce stress, help with weight loss, and fight insomnia

Baby Friendly

free text messages to keep baby and mommy healthy


information about breast pumping, breast milk storage, etc.


Breastfeeding friendly locations, doctors, and lactation consultants.

Community Health Advocacy Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:01:00 +0000 Whether it's participating in a rally, writing your legislator, signing a petition, or just educating your neighbor on an issue, advocacy plays a critical role in improving community health. Advocacy is crucial to raise awareness of community health issues and influence private and public policy choices. Recent community health issues that have been at the center of community health advocacy nationwide include access to affordable healthcare insurance, prescription drug policy, and gun violence prevention.

While these are notable issues you may have seen in national headlines, community health advocacy plays out at the local level as well. For years, activists protested the absence of hospitals on Chicago's South Side that were able to treat gunshot victims. This absence meant that gunshot victims had to be transported to hospitals in other parts of the city or the suburbs, which meant a longer wait time to reach care, and preventable deaths. Through continued advocacy from Chicago's South Side communities, the University of Chicago Medicine decided to build a new trauma center, which is scheduled to open on May 1, 2018, to meet the needs of Chicago's South Side communities. In advocacy like this communities exercise their power to improve community health.

To find out more about the role of advocacy in community health join the Society for Public Health Education for a webinar on 10/18/17 from 1-2:00pm CST at]]>
Making Health for All a Reality Mon, 16 Oct 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Striving for health equity in health education programming in a county as large and diverse as Cook County, Illinois is no small task. Cook County is the second-most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County, California. As of 2015, the population was 5.2 million.

Health disparities across the county, which includes the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, are vast. Data show the areas of greatest disparity being the south and west sides of the city, as well as the southern suburbs.

The mission of the Community Health Team is "Educate and inspire Cook County residents to live healthier lives through practical, prevention-focused, research-driven community health programming". Fulfilling this mission includes an ongoing program planning process. As a part of this process, the team considers national and local data in strategically planning where to focus health education efforts. Prior to the development of new programs, the team conducts local needs assessment to identify the strengths and needs of that community. This includes conducting focus groups and key informant interviews with residents and community based organizations.

It is through this process that a small team of four health educators is able to best identify and fill gaps in health education programming, assure efforts are not being duplicated, and ultimately serve to make health a reality for various audiences throughout Cook County.

As you might expect, program topics ebb and flow with changing times. The team works with all ages from preschool to senior citizens. Programming spans physical, mental, and emotional health and includes sexual health education for youth and adults, chronic disease prevention, breast cancer awareness, interpersonal violence prevention and trauma informed care just to name a few.

Check out the Cook County events page to learn more about the variety of University of Illinois Extension programs -