Statement of the Problem: American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have higher morbidity and mortality rates of chronic disease than other racial groups. The Seminole Tribe of Florida (STOF) shares similar health statistics demonstrated by their prevalence of Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Evidence suggests programs that restore language and cultural practices improve health and well-being and can decrease health disparities. Ancillary challenges for STOF Tribal Members are travel time and distance between reservations due to noncontiguous service area sites in seven counties, contributing to difficulty of culture/language, and health preservation.
Funding Aim (Purpose & Outcomes): The Purpose or long-term outcome of the proposed project is an increased sense of mental and emotional wellbeing among community members and the use of cultural practices to reduce diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer among STOF members to be accomplished through strong collaboration between Health and Culture leaders. Intermediate outcomes pursued are to increase Tribal Members’ sense of cultural and social connectedness. The importance of this sense of connectedness was never made more evident than during the last two years of the pandemic when isolation was encouraged in the hope of avoiding infection which resulted in the deteriorated rates of mental, physical and emotional health of its Tribal Members
Method: The following strategies will be employed: 1) Family and community activities that connect cultural teaching to health and wellness; 2) Social and cultural activities that promote community wellness; and 3) Intergenerational learning opportunities that support wellbeing and resilience. The project activity plan is to: continue to train a core group of culture leaders as health coaches while these same culture leaders strive to increase the cultural competence of health providers; identify and promote collaborative cultural wellness activities; and initiate engagement and sustainability of Tribal community members of all ages in cultural wellness conversations and practices. This project approach is unique in that Health, Cultural partners, leaders, and “Seminole Health Coaches” align to implement culturally based health & wellness activities. As a result of these collaborative efforts, the Tribal community will experience increased connectedness through improved trust and rapport as they embrace their traditional spirit of resilience, and engage in and sustained cultural wellness practices and conversations for generations.
Evaluation: Evaluation of short-term, annual outcomes will include: 1.) The continued training of a core group of Seminole Health Coaches (20) with the inclusion of 1-3 new team members per year 2.) Track the number of collaborative Cultural Wellness Activities that are scheduled and promoted; and 3.) Track the number of Tribal members of all ages participating in wellness activities and engaged in cultural conversations. Special attention will be made to engage youth in cultural wellness activities as a high degree of disconnect was noted in this peer group. Outcomes will be evaluated annually, using a Likert rating scale unless re-directed by CDC.
Benefit: The proposed project is anticipated to initiate and sustain engagement of cultural health & wellness practices, and traditional activities. Tribal Members will feel more connected to culture through strengthened identity which can reduce risk factors and chronic disease, morbidity, and mortality over time consequently, reducing health disparities for the STOF Tribal Members.