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New Mexico State University

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NMSU's SoAHEC program wins border models award

The Environmental Health Education and Home Safety Project, a program of New Mexico State University's Southern Area Health Education Center (SoAHEC), has been awarded an $8,000 Border Models of Excellence Award by the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission.

rd recognizes community-based health programs and initiatives along the U.S.-Mexico border that utilize community health workers and have made great strides in improving the health and well-being of communities along either side of the 2000-mile border.

The home safety project began in 1999 to minimize environmental and safety hazards in the homes of Dona Ana County residents through education and creative problem solving, said Adriana Corona, an education outreach coordinator. The project has provided education on a variety of topics including asthma and allergies, pesticides, lead, hazardous household products, fire and other emergencies, food safety and gas safety, she said.

Two community health workers, Lucy Palomino and Claudia Leyva, work together to conduct home visits to identify risk factors, create an education plan and provide evaluation and follow-up services. Since the project began, more than 1,000 homes have been visited and more than 400 community presentations have been made, Corona said.

"I'm really proud of Dona Ana County and I know this project is making a difference," Leyva said. "Because of our continuous training, I have been able to make changes even in my own home to improve my family's safety."

"I also have made changes in my home, but this has been a big success for me professionally because I really like meeting and helping new people," Palomino said.

The U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission was created in July 2000 with the signing of an agreement by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Health in Mexico to provide international leadership to optimize health and quality of life along the border. The commission established the awards this year and honored 10 programs this summer.

The mission of SoAHEC, which also functions as the Border Health Education and Training Center (BHETC), is to serve as a culturally competent regional resource and training center for youth, the health workforce and communities of New Mexico. SoAHEC/BHETC are funded by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine through New Mexico State's Health Sciences Department.

Also receiving an award from this area was the New Mexico Department of Health's Border Health Office for Border Vision Fronteriza -- New Mexico Model Project (BVF). The BVF Project provides outreach and health education using community health workers to increase enrollment of children and pregnant women in Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

For more information about the award-winning programs, call SoAHEC at (505) 646-3441, Ext. 13 and the Border Health Office at (505) 528-5154.