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April is National Minority Health Month
 
 
Highmark works to address health disparities
 
Highmark Inc. remains steadfast in its efforts to eliminate health disparities through activities and programs aimed at improving the health of our members and our communities. Highmark joins the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health as it calls on the Nation to focus on the following issues during Minority Health Month in April.
 
 
Stop Bullying Now! Prevent youth violence
The impact bullying has in the lives of our youth creates a call to action for the community, its leaders and the education system to resolve and address this pervasive epidemic.
 
Actions that you can take to Stop Bullying Now!
· Take the time to talk to your children.
· Learn the signs and signals of bullying.
· Lean how to talk to your child about what he/she can do about bullying.
· Learn what to do (and what not to do) if your child has been bullied.
· Learn how to talk to your child’s school about bullying.
 
The Highmark Foundation formed a broad coalition of partners to implement the evidence-based Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). Drawing on the expertise of the Center for Safe Schools, Windber Research Institute and Clemson University, the Foundation implemented the OBPP at individual schools and school districts throughout Pennsylvania. As of this year, OBPP has reached 210,000 students, more than 17,000 teachers and approximately 345,000 parents.
The Foundation's efforts will continue to play a critical role in helping thousands of students remain safe at school. The Highmark Foundation provides help to parents so they can understand and approach bullying in a healthy way. Visit the website to learn more, www.highmarkfoundation.org.
Donate the Gift of Life! Promote organ donation
African-Americans make up 11 percent of Pennsylvania’s overall population, but they represent nearly 32 percent of Pennsylvanians waiting for organ donor transplants. Sixty-six percent of African-Americans in Pennsylvania waiting for an organ transplant have been on the waiting list for more than a year.
 
Who can be a donor?
Anyone 18 years of age or older may decide to be an organ and tissue donor. Parents and guardians must consent to the decision by anyone between the ages of 16 and 18, and they must also make that decision for other minor donors.
 
How to become a potential donor?
Any adult may complete and have properly witnessed an organ and tissue donor card and/or ask that the "Organ Donor" designation be placed on a new or renewed Pennsylvania Driver's License or Photo ID Card at the Photo License Center. Learn more at www.donatelife-pa.org.
 
Walk it off! Fight Obesity
Did you know that minority children are more likely to be overweight? Hispanic boys and African-American girls have the highest rates of obesity among all other population groups. In fact, African-Americans who are born in the year 2000 or after face a two in five risk for diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease and stroke have become the first and third-leading causes of death among the African-American population.
 
We can all make efforts to fight obesity, no matter what age:
· Set realistic goals to get started on a healthier lifestyle.
· Make sure your child gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days.
· Adults should aim for 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.
· Walking for just 30 minutes daily, three times a week can improve bone strength, decrease your risk of depression, some cancers and improve your overall fitness.
 
Addressing obesity is taken seriously at Highmark. We give our members access to a telephone-based support service, myCare Navigator, where members can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk with a care advocate. Members can also access an around-the-clock Blues On Call® nurse for care questions as well as online tools from WebMD® and lifestyle improvement programs at community locations. And through Blue365, members can access health and wellness discounts on fitness, nutrition, vision, hearing and more.
 
Watch your mouth! Promote oral health
A recent United Concordia and Highmark-funded study focused on the effects of proper oral care on overall health care costs. The study analyzed data for a three-year period from nearly 1.7 million individuals and found that appropriate dental treatment and maintenance can actually lower medical costs for patients with such medical conditions as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and pregnancy with pre-term birth.
 
Follow these oral health tips for adults and older youth and reduce oral health problems and medical condition complication:
  • Brush and floss your teeth every day, two times a day.
  • Drink fluoridated water and use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. To ensure you are on the right track with your self-care, schedule regular visits with your dentist or visit a local dental clinic.
  • Avoid tobacco. Smokers are seven times as likely to develop gum disease compared to non-smokers. Tobacco use in any form increases risks for gum disease and oral and throat cancers.
  • Limit alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol can increase your risk for oral and throat cancers.
  • Eat wisely. Avoid sugars and starches when snacking. Fruits and vegetables rich in fiber help activate your salivary glands, which aid in preventing tooth decay.
 
Learn more about National Minority Health Month through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Minority Health.
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