Recap of 2016 Avance Center Conference

2016 Regional Conference on Advancing Health Equity for Latino Youth & Families Brings Together Public Health Practitioners, Policy Makers, and Community Voices

The Avance Center for the Advancement of Immigrant/Refugee Health at the George Washington University (GW) Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH), in partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Regional Primary Care Coalition, hosted a conference on October 5, 2016 to discuss the disproportionate burden of health problems that affect Latinos living in the metropolitan Washington area and efforts underway to address these health disparities. This year’s event focused on migration trends throughout the region and how migration and other social determinants impact Latino youth and family health. Attendees gathered for the opportunity to learn more about research, best practices, and policy solutions to improve Latino health in the region and support youth and families.

Armando Trull, Senior Reporter, WAMU 88.5, delivered a keynote address about the D.C. region’s growing Latino immigrant community and the surge of unaccompanied youth streaming across the U.S. border. D.C, Maryland, and Virginia government officials, including Fairfax County Supervisor and COG Board Member Penny Gross, discussed policy solutions for health disparities and other serious concerns in Latino communities. 

 Armando Trull.jpg      Claudia.jpg

Guest of honor Dr. Claudia Ivette Canjura de Centeno, MPH, Ambassador of El Salvador in Washington, D.C. provided insightful remarks, encouraging governments to fulfill the right to health for all the population.

The October 5 event also featured talks by Mark Edberg, PhD, MA and Sean Cleary, PhD, MPH, Director and Co-Director of the Avance Center, Randy Capps, PhD, MPAff, Director of Research for U.S. Programs at the Migration Policy Institute and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, MPH, Senior Researcher with Pew Research Center. Chuck Bean, COG Executive Director and Sharon Zalewski, Executive Director of Center for Health Care Access at the Regional Primary Care Coalition, provided remarks regarding policy and primary care.

The event included breakout sessions focusing on behavioral health services for Latinos and immigrants who face trauma and family separation; Latino access to quality and higher education and its impact on health outcomes; affordable and safe housing and Latino community health; emerging research on a project called Water Up! that aims to reduce the risk of obesity/diabetes in Latino populations; and results from the Adelante Positive Youth Development intervention to address co-occurring substance abuse, sexual risk and violence among Latino youth.

The conference also featured a screening of the documentary “Living Undocumented” with filmmaker Tatyana Kleyn, PhD, MA. Oliver Contreras’ photojournalism exhibit “Unaccompanied,” a series of portraits of unaccompanied youth immigrants, was on display throughout the conference. At closing, we were honored to have youth pictured in the exhibit share their stories, struggles, and dreams with the group. Their resilience despite all of life’s hardships inspired those in attendance to continue to work hard on improving Latino health.

View El Tiempo Latino's video of the event.