n April 3rd, Norfolk State University hosted a gathering of students, faculty, healthcare professionals, and community leaders to delve into the crucial topic of enhancing health literacy — the ability to understand and act on basic health information — within college campuses and communities. The event was supported by NSU's Office of Health & Wellness and the Center for African American Public Policy in collaboration with EdLogics, a Virginia Beach-based company dedicated to improving health literacy. The symposium guests were welcomed by Student Affairs Vice President Leonard Brown, Ph.D.

Dr. Brown embraced the university’s efforts to reduce health disparities on the campus of NSU in communities of color. Greetings were provided by Mr. Gilbert Bland, President/CEO of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, and member of the NSU Board of Visitors who commended NSU for launching the Healthier757 initiative to improve the health of students, faculty, and administrators on the campus of NSU and throughout the Hampton Roads region.

The program featured a panel discussion moderated by Craig Loper, Sports Director at WAVY TV 10/WVBT Fox 43, and included:

  • Shaunice Johnson, NSU Student Health Ambassador
  • Milton Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Dean of Research, Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Cynthia B. Burwell, Ed.D., MCHES, Director, NSU Center of Excellence in Minority Health Disparities
  • Thomas M. Chamberlain, Pharm.D., Founder & CEO, EdLogics
  • Keith H. Newby, M.D., Market Director, Community Health Improvement & Engagement at Bon Secours Health
  • Sheila A. Ward, Ph.D., MPH, Project Director, NSU Health & Wellness Initiative for Women

Together, they addressed the significant health disparities prevalent in communities, particularly among people of color. The panel shed light on how the 757 region trails behind in health metrics related to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infant mortality, and life expectancy, compared to the rest of Virginia and the US. They emphasized how low health literacy leads to unhealthy choices and poorer healthcare decisions — so the disparities continue.

Dr. Olusoji Akomolafe, Executive Director of the NSU Center for African American Public Policy introduced NSU President Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D., and applauded her commitment to improving the health of NSU students and acknowledged her accomplishment of receiving NSU’s largest philanthropic gift of $40 million dollars from the Mckenzie Scott Foundation. During the event, President Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D., read a health literacy proclamation underscoring the university's dedication to combating health disparities through research and innovative programs on the campus of NSU.

One such initiative is Healthier757, a regional effort focused on boosting the health literacy of Hampton Roads residents. The partnership between NSU and Healthier757 signifies a significant step toward addressing chronic health conditions and disparities in vulnerable communities.

NSU's collaboration with Healthier757 has enabled the university to pioneer the launch of Rewards for Healthy Living, making NSU the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the nation and the first university in Virginia to do so. The digital platform offers engaging games, videos, quizzes, and articles on hundreds of health topics — along with cash rewards — and is available free of charge to all NSU students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

A student raffle, facilitated by Alexus Ross, an EdLogics Community Coordinator and recent NSU graduate and Healthier757 intern, awarded four $25 gift cards to participating students.

Vanessa Jenkins, Ed.D., Executive Director, NSU Health & Wellness, closed the program by underscoring the importance of improving health literacy among NSU students, which in turn will empower them to make better informed healthcare decisions all their lives

Originally posted 
Apr 4, 2024