By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Looking for a safe place to get a dose of sunshine this summer? Try Railroad Park, located in the heart of Birmingham and situated along 1st Avenue South between 14th and 18th Streets. The park is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily with around-the-clock rangers on patrol and 24-hour security system surveillance. Free parking is available along the outer perimeters of the park along 1st Avenue South.
Get Active in the Park!
Featuring 19 acres of green space, including 9 acres of open lawn, Railroad Park is the ideal place to have a picnic, go for a jog, or play frisbee with peers or pets. There are onsite restrooms, water fountains, and a café with a delicious menu, so feel free to make a day of it!
Railroad Park is abundant with greenery and water features, with ponds, streams, an eye-catching lake, and a stunning rain curtain feature. More than 600 trees have been planted for shade and the abundance of flowers make the park a luxurious landscape for the senses.
There is large outdoor gym area inspired by Muscle Beach in California. For kids, the park offers two playgrounds and a climbing dome. For skaters, there is a designated skate zone with three skate bowls available. For an adult looking to get active, it offers a variety of walking trails including
The Magic City Loop (3/4 mile)
Rail Trail (1/3 mile)
Powell Avenue Promenade (1/3 mile)
Limestone Trace (1/2 mile)
With sweeping lawns, picturesque streams and the beautiful Birmingham skyline framing it all, Railroad Park a prime spot for relaxing and connecting with nature within our urban jungle.
By Shayna Bryan (UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern) with contributions from Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson
On Thursday, June 17th (2021), the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law, making this year’s observation of Juneteenth, the first observation of the new federal holiday. On Friday, the 18th, Dr. Larrell Wilkinson had the opportunity to speak to a diverse group of college sophomores and juniors about aging research within the fields of community health and human services. During his talk, Dr. Wilkinson spoke about the day’s federal observance of “Juneteenth” which is traditionally celebrated on June 19th in celebration of the day in 1865 when enslaved African-Americans were informed of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. Dr. Wilkinson shared with the young diverse scholars his hope for the Juneteenth commemoration to help foster “understanding given diverse racial experiences among Americans, which could support racial healing and reconciliation among Americans, and lead to greater solidarity within our country.” He ended by saying that “we have to do the work…Americans can overcome challenges when working together and tackling the issues.”
Juneteenth is about celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the US as well as African American history, culture, and progress. But make no mistake, this is an American celebration for everyone because it marks a turning point in our nation’s history that is painful to remember but essential to understand for our future. Slavery was a terrible human and economic institution that has bathed our country’s history in blood and conflict. In our present day and into the future we have opportunities to reduce the instances of racial violence and prejudice and heal the hurts from our many past circumstances of injustice. Keeping systems of segregation, discrimination, and oppression due to the social construct of race in order to preserve power, resources, or wealth for a select racial category is un-American and will not lead to the forming of a “more perfect union.”
We should never forget the terrible atrocities conducted under the system of slavery or the harms performed during the eras of Reconstruction and Jim Crow. But we should also remember to celebrate the recovery and progress made towards racial harmony and cultural proficiency by all racial groups and work to secure the “blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” What are your thoughts? From your point of view, what is the best way(s) to improve cultural and racial harmony in the United States of America? Please feel free to leave comments below or engage with us @WilkinsonWellnessLab on Facebook.
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
If you’ve ever spent time looking for healthy diets to follow, but wanted to avoid a highly restrictive diet (like vegan) or a commercial diet plan (like Weight Watchers), you probably have come across the Mediterranean Diet. It has been the subject of research for over 50 years and has been ranked the best overall diet by the U.S. News and World Report for four years running. The American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the World Health Organization have all endorsed the Mediterranean diet as a healthy and sustainable eating style that reduces risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The Mediterranean Diet also may assist with weight loss in obese people and is associated with lower rates of depression, cognitive decline, cancer, and all-cause mortality.
This diet has a lot of major endorsements! So then, what’s up with this diet and why is it so special?
The Mediterranean Sea is a meeting point of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. When health experts and researchers recommend the “Mediterranean Diet” they’re not talking about the food of just one people or one culture, but the common shared characteristics of the simple everyday meals made for centuries in this region of the world. Meals are built around plant-based foods, heavily seasoned with herbs and spice (though not tons of salt). These meals are made, shared, and enjoyed amongst a community of families and friends.
Here’s are the common characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet:
High consumption of vegetables, often raw or slightly cooked
Beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, potatoes, and unprocessed or whole grains
Olive oil as the principal source of fat
Fruit treated as a dessert
Moderate consumptions of fish, poultry, and dairy (mostly in the form of yogurt and cheese)
Low consumption of red meat
Moderate alcohol consumption, often in the form of red wine
Please check out the source below to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet. Please also share your thoughts about the Mediterranean Diet in the comments section of this post or via our page on Facebook @WilkinsonWellnessLab.
“What is missing is fun. We need to unplug and do something fun! It may sound cheesy, but having fun is self-care.” – Khalia Wilkinson
Are you ready to live well, be healthy, and walk into abundant life? Conversations with Khalia is a platform designed for women to speak freely about matters of life. Conversations with Khalia is a virtual talk on women’s wellness hosted through the East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Library every fourth Monday of the month. Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson is a coach and minister working with women looking to ditch feeling stressed, overwhelmed, drained, and desiring to be accomplished, healthy, and thriving. On April 26, 2021, she will host an online conversation at 12:15PM CST. You can register here (https://tinyurl.com/Online-Conversations) or call (205) 836-3341 to attend.
Khalia Wilkinson is a counselor and wellness coach with 15 years of experience mentoring and training women. She has written The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide to uplift women experiencing wellness withdrawals due to the sudden shifts in their schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide discusses in-depth how to navigate the required activities of daily living in this new unforeseen space while managing isolation, mental wellness, schedules, and self-care. She also hosts the Woman31 Podcast, a podcast rooted in biblical principles found in Proverbs, Chapter 31 with an accompanying website: Woman31.
Khalia believes that a woman’s health and well-being is foundational to ensuring all other scheduled family activities are successfully completed. The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide embraces concepts of self-care in support of one’s overall health and wellness. The guide offers easy-to-perform tasks that can help individuals better manage their well-being.
Self-care is typically visualized as a spa day. However, Khalia suggests that adequate sleep, eating a healthy and satisfying meal, praying, laughing at a good movie, and/or speaking with a trusted and supportive friend are all excellent modes of self-care. Understanding where you are and what health areas you need to focus on is pivotal to living well.
Khalia says that mental health is vital to overall wellness. She suggested that seeking professional counseling is absolutely a “good thing” to do, especially when one is experiencing serious mental illness. She also mentioned that feeling negative emotions is a signal to our body that something is not “okay.” Thus, it is important to listen to our body and seek help. When asked if there was any wellness advice she could offer, she said, “Do something fun and find ways to get back to the activities we love, because it can be healthy for our bodies.” You can always connect with Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson on Instagram, @khalia.woman31.
Commentary drawn from Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Media Statement & Website released Thursday, April 8 2021
According to the CDC (2021),…”Racism—both interpersonal and structural —negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation. A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color. The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes.”
The CDC is committed to ensuring every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life. To that end, CDC—as the nation’s leading public health agency—has established this web portal, “Racism and Health” to serve as a hub for our activities, promote a public discourse on how racism negatively affects health and communicate potential solutions. Working with the broader public health community, the CDC will serve as a catalyst to further investigate the impact of racism on health and efforts to achieve health equity for all.
As the nation’s leading public health agency, other efforts from the CDC in addressing the impact of racism on public health include:
Continuing to study the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, expand the body of evidence on how racism affects health, and propose and implement solutions to address this.
Making new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country, establishing a durable infrastructure that will provide the foundation and resources to address disparities related to COVID-19 and other health conditions.
Expanding internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all.
By Jun Wang & Shayna Bryan (Interns & UAB Community Health & Human Services Students), & Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson
The United States of America is a country of great cultural diversity. People from all around the world come here and contribute to the broader American community. Asian Americans & Pacific Islander (AAPI) citizens also call the United States of American their home, about 22.6 million in number which accounts for about 5.4% of the population (US Census Bureau, 2021).
Anti-Asian sentiment is not a new problem in the United States. Asian immigrants first came to the US in the 1850s and were instrumental in expansion and development of the western half of the country (US Census Bureau, 2020). But in response to cultural and economic objections fueled by ethnic discrimination, President Arthur signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act, which remains the first and only immigration law that targeted a specific ethnic group. The law wasn’t repealed until 1943. This type of in-group/out-group mentality threatens our strength and abilities as a country. It is in this vein and in working to affirm the humanity of all individuals that the recent rise in violent acts against the AAPI community must be addressed and stopped.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans has risen by 150% (Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, 2020). During this time when our country should unite to face down the COVID-19 pandemic, some choose dissension, violence, and hate. But we can choose to be kind to each other, seek to live peacefully with one another, and act to care for our neighbors.
Here are some tips for all of us to combat this challenge together:
Call 911 for help or to make a report to authorities if you witness a hate crime or harmful incident suspected of being racially or ethnically motivated.
Use your voice within social media to speak against hate speech, while affirming support for all humanity.
Do a “care check-in” with your AAPI neighbors and friends
Bulletin from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Minority Health
April is National Minority Health Month, and this year, the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is focusing on the impacts COVID-19 is having on racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native communities and underscoring the need for these vulnerable communities to get vaccinated as more vaccines become available. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain vulnerable populations, such as non-Hispanic African Americans, individuals living in nonmetropolitan areas, and adults with lower levels of education, income or who do not have health insurance, have a higher likelihood of forgoing getting vaccinated.
The theme for National Minority Health Month is #VaccineReady. The goal of this effort is to help communities at higher risk of COVID-19 to:
Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping people from getting COVID-19 and the CDC recommends that everyone get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and vaccines are available.
So let’s work together. Please leave a comment on how you are becoming #VaccineReady. Please continue to check in with the Wilkinson Wellness Laboratory through Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter for updates during National Minority Health Month as we place a focus on our health and our community.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find meatless options when on the go. We get it and totally understand. Although best practices include meal planning in advance, suggestions from patrons of the LAB for meatless options include (but are not limited to):
Burger King Impossible Whopper
Chick-Fil-A Spicy Southwest Salad with No Chicken
Dunkin’ Donuts Veggie Egg White Sandwich
Great Harvest Bread Company Vegetable Bread Options
Jimmy John’s Unwich
Starbucks Impossible Breakfast
Subway Veggie Delight
Taco Bell Veggie Power Bowl
Disclaimer: The Wilkinson Wellness Lab does not assume liability for adverse reactions to foods consumed, or items one may come into contact with while eating at any of the above establishments.
Help: This list is not exhaustive, so help us out. What meatless options have you consumed while “on the go”? Which menu items taste good? Which menu items should we consider for health and taste? Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.
According to an Issue Brief (August 19, 2020) from the Commonwealth Fund, during the first half of 2020, 43.4 percent of U.S. adults ages 19 to 64 were inadequately insured. The adult uninsured rate was 12.5 percent. In addition, 9.5 percent of adults were insured but had a gap in coverage in the past year and 21.3 percent were underinsured. According to 2012 data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, an estimated 15.8% of Alabamians are without health insurance coverage. 15.8% of uninsured Alabamians are ages 65 or older, while 15.5% of Alabamians without health coverage were between ages 40 – 64 years of age. Among the uninsured, 19% were African American and 34.6% were persons from Latino/Hispanic ethnicity.
Health Insurance Coverage is a significant resource to have in your life and the lives of your loved ones! Through the Marketplace created through the Affordable Care Act, health plans cover:
Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
Additionally, plans in various states may include: Dental coverage, Vision coverage, and/or Medical management programs (for specific needs like weight management, back pain, and diabetes). Start your process of gaining health coverage today by visiting Healthcare.gov to learn more about healthcare coverage and encourage your loved ones to the same.