Throughout April, the Louisiana Department of Health’s Bureau of Minority Health Access and Promotions is co-sponsoring the national Active and Healthy Challenge that encourages individuals, especially racial and ethnic minorities, to work physical activity into their daily and weekly schedules.

The Challenge is a nationwide effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health and is part of National Minority Health Month.

The Active and Healthy Challenge is designed to promote the newly released Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Walking, running, biking, dancing, swimming, exercise and other physical activity will be measured by converting the activities into steps.

Rudy Macklin, director of the Bureau of Minority Health Access and Promotions, said the national challenge builds on Louisiana’s Own Your Own Health Physical Activity and Nutrition Challenge.

“The U.S. Department of Health has modeled their nationwide activity challenge on the program we started in Louisiana, Own Your Own Health. In both Louisiana and throughout the country, this event allows fitness enthusiasts or anyone seeking a healthy lifestyle change to create a public or private challenge. Participants earn points through exercise, weight loss and healthy eating selections. They track their progress through the Own Your Own Health online wellness center,” said Macklin.

Two type of teams can be formed; those made up of less than 10 people or those with 10 or more participants. The challenge is also open to individuals. Own Your Own Health has developed two links to help people sign up:

In addition to the challenges noted above, some towns and cities have already issued challenges. These include New Orleans’ Movin’ with the Mayor that runs from April through the end of June, and two city vs. city challenges; Ville Platte vs Patterson, and Bastrop vs. Tallulah.

In addition to the activity challenge, in conjunction with the Louisiana Primary Care Association, community groups, faith-based organizations, regional and local health departments and other public-private entities are also holding activities during National Minority Health Month. Issues addressed by these activities will include health outcome disparities, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, mental health, cultural awareness, urban and rural health needs and gender issues.

A full listing of events can be found here. Activities will continue to be added throughout the month, and will address these topics:

  • Promoting healthy lifestyles,
  • Providing crucial information to allow individuals to practice disease prevention,
  • Showcasing the resources for and providers of grassroots healthcare information,
  • Highlighting the resolution of the disparate health conditions between Louisiana's minority and non-minority populations, and
  • Seeking additional support for the ongoing efforts to improve minority health year-round

Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, added that another focus of the month is on health disparities.

“The reality is there are differences in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality or survival rates between different groups,” she said. “These differences cannot be explained only by lifestyle or individual choices. Instead, as we look at health outcomes, there are stark differences in how some people get treated when compared to others. These are referred to as health inequities and they result in a lower overall quality of life among those impacted. Furthermore, their families and communities are also negatively impacted.” 

Throughout the year the Bureau of Minority Health, in conjunction with its local partners, will raise a call for all Louisiana residents to take action towards ending health disparities in their community.

To find out more about the Louisiana Minority Health Month Campaign, contact the Louisiana Bureau of Minority Health Access and Promotions at (225) 342-4886 or visit www.ldh.la.gov/mha.