Since 2015, The Links, Incorporated and the American Cancer Society have worked together to address cancer disparities and drive health equity in all communities touched by cancer. Through the Health Equity Ambassador program,we seek to eradicate inequities and reduce cancer screening disparities through community outreach and education. Ambassadors receive training and ongoing support to effectively provide outreach and education related to breast and colorectal cancer prevention and early detection. The work of ambassadors aligns with evidence-based strategies to increase breast and colorectal cancer screening rates by providing one-on-one and/or group education.
HeartLinks encourages Links members and the communities we serve to take an aggressive stance against heart disease, the number one killer of African-American women. HeartLinks accomplishes its goal by equipping our members with numerous ways to implement heart healthy programs and activities in their communities including: Walk for a Healthy Living Program, Childhood Obesity Prevention Program, Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Program, and Red Dress events.
Walk For Healthy Living is designed to encourage Links members, their families, and the communities we serve to improve their health by walking more. Physical activity is an integral part of a long term overall health strategy.We support this by sponsoring Links Walk-a-Thons throughout our communities during the last weekend in September, and by challenging community and Links members to take 10,000 steps each day. As we continue to promote exercise, our membership is committed to walking 75 million steps by The Links 75th anniversary in 2021.
Childhood Obesity Prevention Program increases awareness and heightens understanding surrounding the multi-dimensional issues that contribute to obesity in African-American children and their families. Addressing childhood obesity is key to securing the health of our children and their futures. Working with community centers, churches and schools we hope to change the way children view food.
Organ, Tissue and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness Signature Program Linkages to Life was established in response to the health disparities in organ, eye, and tissue (including bone marrow) transplantation. Our goal is to decrease disparities in donor registration and transplantation in the African-American community. Our members work to increase the number of registered donors through community-based events and multi-media awareness campaigns. In partnership with the national organization Donate Life America,we strive to register 740 donors by 2020.
The National HIV/AIDS Initiative ensures that Links members and the communities we serve understand the incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, how these infections are transmitted, and how the disease can be prevented. Through this initiative we partner with national organizations that specialize in educating and preventing HIV/AIDS as well as partner with HBCUs and other African-American organizations that share our commitment to fighting this disease. The current focus of this initiative is “Know Your Status”.While there is no cure for HIV, there is effective treatment. The goal of treatment is to have the virus under control (viral suppression; amount of HIV in the body is undetectable). We know that education and access is the key to slowing the spread of this disease and ultimately saving lives.
The goal of the National Mental Health Initiative is to educate Links members about depression, anxiety, and social issues that impact our physical and mental health so that our members can take this knowledge into our communities. The National Mental Health Initiative collaborates with each Links programming facet to incorporate a wellness component into all Links programs. By strategically partnering with organizations that specialize in black mental health issues and by identifying and sharing resources that educate on how to seek and find treatment, we are helping to eliminate the stigma of mental illness within the black community. Our work with the national organization Mental Health First Aid will allow 1,000 Links members to be trained in recognizing certain mental health issues.
The Links, Incorporated aims to increase awareness of ongoing disparities and inequities in oral health among adults and children through our National Oral Health Initiative. In partnership with Colgate, we implement their Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program to teach youth about proper oral care. The Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program provides Links chapters the opportunity to impact their communities by:
- Helping families become knowledgeable on how oral health affects the body
- Providing children free education and screenings (via the Colgate dental van)
- Providing families referrals to dentists willing to provide services for free and/or at nominal costs
- Helping families become knowledgeable about how diet affects dental care