New public health grant aimed at empowering Latinos in Linn County


ALBANY, Ore. – A new community-based participatory research program designed to empower Latino families in Linn County to become advocates for effective community interventions and public health services has been funded by Oregon State University.

The $25,000 grant is part of a new research collaboration that brings together OSU researchers, OSU Extension, and local county health departments. The Outreach Collaborative for a Healthy Oregon, or OCHO, brings together the research arm of the College of Health and Human Sciences to collaborate both with Extension agents, as well as local county health departments to develop an innovative model of public health improvement, service, and outreach.

Tina Dodge-Vera, an educator with the nutrition program with Extension Family and Community Health, is the principal investigator on the project. Titled “Poder Comunitario,” the aim of the project is to duplicate successful programs from Benton County Health Promotion and Benton County Casa Unidos Latinos in Linn County.

Latinos in Oregon are five times more likely to die prematurely than white Oregonians. Adult Latinos in Oregon also have the highest incidence of obesity and low levels of physical activity. The Latino population in Linn County grew 79 percent in the past decade and will grow an additional 184 percent by 2025.

“Healthy communities begin with physically, mentally, and socially healthy families,” Dodge-Vera said. “This project will work toward social justice and good public health to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate preventative health education in the community.”

The project will develop a “Latino Wellness Network” to engage local community members in planning and implementing nutrition and physical activity programs. The members of this network will facilitate ongoing meetings, trainings, and leadership opportunities. In addition, researchers will conduct a needs assessment to prioritize public health issues and develop policy recommendations.

In addition to Dodge-Vera, other leaders on the collaborative project include Robin Galloway with Extension 4-H; Karen Elliott with OSU’s Department of Public Health; and Pat Crozier, program manager with the Linn County Health Department.