VyC Promotores Lead the Charge in Affordable Care Act Education

on Feb 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

This post is also available in: Spanish

By Jorge E. Bañales

Dr. J. Nadine Grecia with Maria Lemus and Melinda Cordero-Bárzaga

In early 2012, when the Visión y Compromiso promotores wanted to help their communities navigate the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they didn’t wait for a national or state initiative. They did it themselves.

They conducted focus groups and talked to different leaders in the field, and from their efforts, Visión y Compromiso developed a train-the-trainers curriculum specifically designed for the community, said Executive Director Maria Lemus.

“We asked 30 promotores from our 13 Network regions to attend a three-day training of trainers about ACA,” Lemus explained. “At the end of the training, these 30 trainers traveled back to their respective regions to lead at least two ACA workshops with an additional 50 promotores. Those 50 promotores, in turn, agree to share the information with at least 25 more people.”

“Through these trainings, Visión y Compromiso is able to reach at least 37,500 people with education about the ACA, and to offer promotores the additional support they need to be successful. Lemus says she hopes to implement the program across California by June and then replicate the model with promotores in other states.

This project is important because there isn’t a lot of information for promotores about the ACA in a way that they can systematically integrate it into the community outreach and education work they do,” said Lemus. “It was developed because promotores saw the need for the information and they decided to develop the curricula. This is an example of the leadership of Visión y Compromiso and how we support leaders to develop and move issues forward.”

California-based Visión y Compromiso provides training, leadership and ongoing advocacy and support to promotores and community health workers serving urban and rural regions across California, the United States and Mexico. Promotores – the Spanish plural for promotor or mentor – are community leaders and members who have a desire and skills to improve the conditions of their native-born and immigrant rural and urban communities. Because they are linguistic and socioeconomic peers, they have a deep connection within the communities and the mutual respect to provide culturally relevant health and family education and information.

Lemus said her organization, which started with five promotores, has grown to include thousands. The promotores from Visión y Compromiso’s 13 different regions come together each month to develop plans for educational forums and build regional initiatives based on consensus. “The important piece is that each promotor or promotora – whether they’ve been doing the work for one year or for twenty years – each has an equal voice in the process. We move forward by consensus centered on popular education theory,” said Lemus.

As a training institution, Visión y Compromiso has many curricula that educate and train promotores and their communities about different issues – from physical and mental health to nutrition and advocacy. The organization also provides technical assistance in program development and implementation, skill building, leadership, policy and advocacy, group facilitation, convenings and conferences in English or Spanish and language interpretation. The organization is involved in research partnerships with universities and agencies, regional and state consensus building projects and expert presentations at local, state and national meetings on the promotor model.

Moving forward, Lemus said the promotores want the organization to focus on increasing community trainings and policy and advocacy efforts. “Our promotores are prepared to really sit at the table and participate in discussions about the implementation of health reform, jobs and immigration.” The promotores will be visiting their Congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., in January and the California State Legislature in April.

For Lemus, one of the greatest strengths of Visión y Compromiso lies in the generosity of the promotores and those organizations that support their personal and professional development. “Our goal is to help build the collective voice of promotores to represent their communities as well as the small and large organizations with which they are affiliated. These promotores have the capacity to communicate these voices to our community and policymakers in order to influence policies locally, statewide and nationally.

“Together we work towards our vision of ‘Hacia Una Vida Digna y Sana’…’Working Towards a Dignified and Healthy Life;”.

Source: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=9578