Tag Archives: education

Public Health in Action – Seas of Change

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We’re nine days into the new year. Nine days into a fresh start, a clean slate. Many shared in eager anticipation and relief for 2016 to be over and done with in both mainstream and social media. But even though we’ve entered 2017, a magic reset button wasn’t pressed. The same issues we faced 10 days ago will still be the same issues we face this year and for many years after.

I imagine that Jason Roberts faced the same realization over a decade ago. Issues do carry over, year after year, unless something or someone shook things up. Earlier today, I watched Jason’s story as a regular citizen in a neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. His curiosity led to endless questions. The single most important question that kept popping up was “why not?” Why can’t things be different? With a mix of curiosity, resourcefulness, creativity, determination and passion, he made significant, long-lasting impacts that improved the quality of life in those Dallas neighborhoods, block by block.

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I was born in 1983 and I spent most of my childhood before the internet ever existed. I grew up playing sports outside, trading sports cards, playing video games and reading comic books. I was even caught up in that Pog epidemic of the 90s – try explaining Pogs to a teenager nowadays and they’d probably tell you “there’s an app for that”.

Terry and Justin Raimey grew up on comics too, and they were also passionate about food. Their passions fused when they co-founded Black Streak Kitchen.

Terry shares a snapshot of their story below.

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Me: How did you end up doing the work that you’re currently doing?  Describe your journey to your current roles as co-founders of Black Streak Kitchen (BSK).  Describe why you’re passionate about improving health behaviors in youth through nutrition education…why others should care about the work you’re doing.

Terry L. Raimey: Justin and I have always had an interest in health, wellness and cooking. Our mom and dad cooked everyday when we were kids, so we never really ate out. When we moved out of our parents’ home, we carried on the tradition of cooking for ourselves – creating new dishes by combining fresh meats, vegetables, fruits, grains and spices.

I am a writer and Justin is the artist and graphic designer of everything Black Streak Entertainment (Black Streak Kitchen’s parent company). We wanted to do something new and unique with our stories and artwork, something no one else in the comics and animation industry had ever done.

One day, I saw an ad for one of those grocery/recipe delivery services and thought it would be really cool to apply our artwork to something like that, and gear it towards kids, teens and families. So, we created Black Streak Kitchen as a source to teach kids, teens and families that cooking healthy can be delicious, while also teaching them how the ingredients can benefit their bodies and minds.

I love to cook and create new dishes by fusing unorthodox fresh ingredients and flavors. I love how eating healthy makes me feel and look; it’s very satisfying to me. And I want everyone to experience that satisfaction.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the amount of children with type-2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity, jumped more than 30% from 2000 to 2009. When we were growing up, diabetes was an ‘old-person’ disease and obesity was a grown-up problem, but today, these conditions are affecting our children. One of the best way to combat America’s failing health grade is through cooking and nutrition education. Black Streak Kitchen provides cooking and nutrition education while making the presented material fun and entertaining.

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Image of recipe from Black Streak Kitchen

 

Me: What inspires you on a daily basis, especially when things get hard?

TLR: Seeing the reactions of the people we introduce to our brand, getting messages and comments from parents on how our app and comics teach them and their kids so much about cooking and nutrition, and even getting props from chefs and nutrition professionals is what motivates us to keep pushing. We pray and work hard, so it’s a true blessing when the Lord answers through the words of people who enjoy our brand.

Me: Can you tell us more about your collaboration with educators and any key outcomes or success stories from your comic books?

TLR: Well, our first comic doesn’t drop until January 15, but as far as collaborators, we’ve been blessed to have some accomplished chefs come on board. Chef Ed Harris will be featured as a Character Chef in our first issue, presenting his recipe “Roasted Cauliflower Stir Fry”. Chef Harris is the winner of Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ season 4 and ‘Iron Chef International’. We are also collaborating with Chef Robert Stewart, winner of ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’, ‘Cutthroat Kitchen’ and star of OWN Network’s ‘Raising Whitley’. Another collaborator of ours is Chef Ethan Taylor. He is the owner of ‘Great EETS’ catering in Los Angeles, CA. He works as a personal chef for numerous A-list celebrities, like Justin Beiber, Jamie Foxx and Mary J. Blige. All of these professionals have great elements to bring to our brand and help us succeed.

Me: What role do you envision comics and visual art having in educating youth?  How much of an impact did comic books play while you two were growing up?  Where do you foresee BSK in the next 5 or 10 years?

TLR: The use for comics and art are limitless. Fusing education with whimsical and visually appealing artwork grabs kids’ attention like nothing else, so it’s the perfect marriage. When were kids, we were big fans of comics. I read every monthly Spider-Man series in publication, and Justin was a big fan of Japanese manga. Comics sparked my imagination and took me on adventures that I could never experience in real life. As a matter of fact, we are still big comic fans!

In 5 to 10 years, we will have a home delivery service where we will deliver our recipe comics and the ingredients for our recipes to families homes. We will also have a cooking and nutrition animated series featuring our characters and signature Black Streak style. Having Black Streak Kitchen product lines through licensing is also a goal of ours.

Me: What are the current needs in the city live in as they relate to social determinants of health (i.e SES, poverty, access to care, transportation, safety, etc.)?

TLR: We live in a suburb outside of Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown used to run off of the steel industry, but once the steel mills shut down, the city was hit hard. Unemployment is high, schools have been shut down, public transportation is limited, there are no grocery stores to purchase healthy food, and there is little opportunity to succeed – it’s quite depressing.

Giving back is important to Justin and I, so we want to sponsor the establishment of community gardens in urban neighborhoods where fresh produce is hard to come-by. Establishing community gardens provides a sustainable food source for the neighborhood residents to draw from. It also helps bring the community together and helps the youth of the community learn a constructive skill that will benefit them for life.

We want to build our own kitchen entertainment empire, while also helping people in need, in particular, black youth.

Public Health in Action – Mind the Gap

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The riots in Baltimore are weeks behind us now, but the aftermath continues to send ripples in the city.  Preliminary estimates from city officials report that the unrest and rioting cost the city $20 million in expenses.  As passionate as I am about social justice and health equity, I can only imagine how the residents of Baltimore, the proud residents of Baltimore, are feeling.  The proud residents who rallied together to clean up the mess that so many others made; the residents whom most media channels forgot to feature on the news.  The civic-minded Baltimore resident is in my thoughts today.  Last month’s riots reminded the nation once again that inequality does exist.  There is still a gap between the “haves” and “have-nots.”  Civic-minded Baltimore residents understand that the gap exists.  There are some who are aware and strive to reduce that gap.  And for that reason, we should all be optimistic.

I recently interviewed a good friend of mine, Mike Allen.  Mike grew up in New York and will always be a New Yorker, but he’s a proud Baltimore resident.  His drive and motivation in achieving goals is unmatched and he’s one of the many reasons I’m optimistic that Baltimore will bounce back even stronger.

As I mentioned, Mike grew up in New York in the 1980’s.  Despite many risk factors, he has and continues to add positivity to our society.

Let’s hear what he has to say.

Me: How did you end up doing the work that you’re currently doing?  Describe your journey into Social Work and now consulting.

Mike Allen: I started a training/consulting company after I was introduced to it while I was an Account Manager in 2006.  Initially, I was apprehensive to conduct trainings.  I was always fearful that an audience participant would throw me a curve-ball question at me that I couldn’t answer.  After having my first taste, I was immediately addicted!  When I hit a crossroad in my career I launched MAZCAN Enterprises, LLC a workplace training and consulting company.

My journey into Social Work started immediately after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree.  I worked at a summer camp for emotionally disturbed youth who had a history of abuse.   I connected with the children and for the very first time in my life I put my needs second to other human beings.  When they left camp I was concerned that they would be returning back to the same abusive households and communities.  I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do more and that is when I decided to move to Maryland and become a Social Worker.

Me: What inspires you on a daily basis, especially when things get hard?

MA: My daughter is the foundation of all things; she reminds me that anything is possible.

Me: What do you think it will take for our healthcare systems improve?

In order for our healthcare system to improve it must first be available and affordable to everyone.  Additionally, education is a huge component that is often side-stepped. Patients need to be educated about their diagnosis and provided alternative and preventative ways to handle their physical and and mental health.

Me: You recently wrote a book on your life story.  What impact do you envision from sharing your book?

MA: The Strength From Within: Windows to My Soul is an inspirational book.  It details how I was able to overcome many disparities and environmental risk factors growing up in Brooklyn New York: the widespread drug epidemic of the 1980’s, underlying poverty, socioeconomic despair, being raised by a single parent and interpersonal violence.  I envision the book having a positive impact on youth and adults to deal with some of their own unresolved issues, but also to have hope for a better tomorrow. The importance of education is weaved throughout the book.  Education was, and still is, the key to my success and I am hopeful that it will inspire readers to continue to seek education by any means.

Me: What are the current needs in Baltimore, as they relate to social determinants of health (i.e SES, poverty, access to care, transportation, safety, etc.)

MA: The needs in Baltimore city specifically are vast as it relates to social determinants.  School curricula should include courses on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, home ownership, and preventative substance abuse education and general health care visits including: regular doctor visits and check ups.