Building Trust with Faith Communities
Faith communities are the heart of Trenton, celebrating the city’s diversity and compassion while fulfilling a key role as safe, trusted places to gather and share information – making them perfect community partners for Trenton Health Team’s (THT) efforts to improve health and well-being.
Trenton Health Team works closely with a network of faith communities on issues ranging from diabetes management to COVID-19, and from medical research to bicycle sharing.
For several years, THT has offered Faith in Prevention, a New Jersey Department of Health-funded community education program that trains lay leaders to host nutrition classes and share healthy lifestyle strategies with members of their faith communities. Our staff teaches the benefits of healthy nutrition and exercise, while providing information about cancer and how to quit smoking. Faith in Prevention health screenings also focus on chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, which are critical health issues in Trenton.
Building on our Faith in Prevention contacts, THT has recruited participants for our free Project Dulce (“Project Sweet”) diabetes education program providing practical advice and real-life examples to train peer educators to share diabetes care and education information in ways that fellow congregants, friends and neighbors can understand.
Trenton Health Team also partners with congregations to promote exercise, and recently provided a set of bicycles, adaptive cycles and adult tricycles to a downtown church for residents of all abilities, especially older adults, to borrow.
Relationships established through these programs recently enabled THT to help the New Jersey Minority Aging Collaborative create a faith leaders’ working group to share their perspectives and advice with medical research teams seeking to increase participation of black, Hispanic and Asian older adults in studies exploring cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, mental health, multiple co-morbidities, health policy and interactions with health care providers. Faith leaders also are crucial to THT community outreach regarding COVID-19 safety and vaccine information. Faith leaders have shared personal videos urging the public to wear masks, and documenting their experiences of receiving the COVID-19 vaccines. They are trusted community leaders and the examples they set are followed. Trenton Health Team will continue to rely on their advice and advocacy to convey effective messages.