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FOR RELEASE: January 23, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Interfaith Health and Wellness Partnership Conference Plans Community Outreach

The Interfaith Health and Wellness Partnership Conference will offer a series of free public health workshops focusing on involving the faith community to help solve the problems of health disparities, access to health care, and community coalition building. The conference is scheduled for March 19-21 at the Oklahoma City University Kramer School of Nursing, 2501 N. Blackwelder in Oklahoma City.

The theme of the conference, “Faith, Hope and Health,” was chosen to bring encouragement and to empower faith organizations to develop ongoing interfaith programs and outreach activities. The committee planning the conference is comprised of Asian/Pacific Islanders, Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans who met and designed the conference to specifically meet the needs of underserved communities.

“We want to encourage participation by pastors, priests, and lay-leaders of all diverse faiths who desire to be a part of a partnership collaboration to improve health care in Oklahoma communities,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie M. Beitsch. “Special efforts are being taken to reach faith leaders in communities that face such obstacles as a lack of transportation, childcare or insurance coverage when they try to access health services.”

Goals identified for the Interfaith Health and Wellness Partnership Conference include:

  • to define health disparities and health access needs;
  • to create partnerships and collaborative efforts with a faith community focus on mind, body and spirit;
  • to share information to increase awareness and develop ongoing health models for interfaith partnerships;
  • to teach participants how to use the media to communicate their health messages;
  • to improve ways to work with culturally and linguistically diverse populations to meet their health needs;
  • to share information about funding resources for inter-faith health activities;
  • to exchange strategies on how to build partnerships and coalitions;
  • to teach participants how to advocate for legislative changes; and
  • to demonstrate effective methods for evaluation of coalition activities.

Workshop topics will include: “Building Partnerships With My Faith Community,” “Faith Sponsored Community Health Fairs,” “Faith-Based Health and Wellness Programs,” “Volunteer Training,” “How to Conduct a Health Assessment,” “How to Develop Health Ministry Activities,” “Holistic Health,” “Access to Health Care,” “Cultural Diversity,” and “Understanding Health Disparities”.

The Interfaith Health and Wellness Partnership Conference is designed to address some of the health disparities identified by the 2002 State of the State’s Interim 2002 Report, The Haves & Have-Nots, released last year by the Oklahoma State Board of Health. Sponsors of the conference include the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health and the Community Development Service.

Planning committee participants are Citychurch, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Prospect Baptist Church, Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Oklahoma City-County Health Department, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Catholic Charities, Native American Tobacco Coalition Oklahoma (NATCO), Holy Temple Baptist Church, Buddhist Association, United Methodist Church, Covenant Life Church, Harbor Christian Academy, Langston University, Praise Assembly Church, Latino Agency, Greater Mt Olive Urban Ministries, the Oklahoma City University Kramer School of Nursing, and the Betty Douglas Forum, Inc.

To register for the conference or for more information, contact Tom Nash, Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Community Development Service, 405/271-9444 ext. 56534.

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