National Trends and Services
This program facet focuses on addressing societal behaviors and conditions that impact local communities. The Missouri City Chapter, in recent years, has chosen to focus primarily on issues related to health and nutrition, anti-bullying, and voter education/registration. Included are the following programs:
AARP/Links Academy – African American women aged 50+ continue to have an oversized burden as the predominate breadwinners in many families. As they age and move toward fixed incomes, the role of household provider sometimes does not diminish. Rather, it may increase (e.g., raising dependent grandchildren and/or caregiving for dependent or disabled relatives). They also continue to face health challenges such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes at statistically higher rate than other groups. Any or all of these risks can have a devastating impact on their income earning abilities as they age. Information and resources which might aid this group are not always readily available, particularly in low income communities. The Missouri City Chapter of the Links, Inc. partners with Gulf Coast Community Services Association (GCCSA), AARP and other agencies to conduct the AARP/Links Academy. The goal of the program is to educate and increase the awareness and knowledge needed for participants to sustain a high quality of life during the aging process.
The Academy includes seven interactive sessions held monthly from October through April. Each two hour session consists of didactic as well as experiential content led by a subject matter expert. Each expert supplements lectures with videos, written materials and hands-on demonstrations as needed. The topics of the interactive sessions include program overview, followed by Health Risk Factors, Diet/Nutrition, Exercise, Affordable Care Act/Medicare/Medicaid, Medical Health/Prescription Drug Use, Financial Health/Budgets, and Caregiving in subsequent sessions. Q&As follow each lecture. At the end of each session a bag of fresh fruits and vegetables is distributed to each participant to enhance their nutritional intake, and a healthy interactive lunch is served. In addition, a raffle for a $25 gift certificate from H-E-B Grocers is held at each session to provide an additional resource to purchase healthy foods. At the beginning of the program, the chapter collects data on each participant’s risk factors: heart and artery diseases, diabetes, obesity, smoking and inactivity. This information is used in tailoring the program content. Each participant signs a pledge to adopt healthy lifestyles. Because weight control is such a key factor in health management, participants are instructed how to determine their body mass index and are assisted in tracking their weight throughout the program. Each senior receives two healthy eating cookbooks and a free membership in AARP. A pre- and post- survey is given to test participants’ knowledge. Each senior receives a certificate of completion at the culminating luncheon in April.
Trash Talking: It’s No Joke – According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services research, bullying adversely affects children’s mental health, academic success and ability to relate to other children. To bring awareness to the growing crisis of bullying, the chapter presents anti-bulling sessions to youth groups. These interactive discussions explore the types of bullying, consequences of bullying, appropriate responses to bullying, bullying resources available to youth, the role of stereotypes and discrimination in bullying, and the importance of self-esteem in combatting bullying.
Voter Registration Drives – The chapter conducts voter registration drives in the greater Houston area prior to local, state and national elections. In addition chapter members participated in a National Voter Registration Day Celebration in Houston with U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Cuney Homes Partnership – For 20+ years, the Chapter has focused on the health of seniors at Cuney Homes, a Harris County housing complex. To encourage healthy eating, fruits and vegetables were distributed monthly to the 60+ residents. Additionally, an annual clothing and household furnishings sale provides funds to purchase Thanksgiving food baskets for the senior residents. Any event unsold clothing is donated to the Star of Hope Mission and Dress for Success.