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AUSTIN -- Recent community health assessments conducted by the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department identified both linguistic and cultural barriers faced by the Asian American community.

To address those issues, the Austin Area Asian American Health (4A+ Health) team has been selected to participate in the National Leadership Academy for the Public's Health (NLAPH) program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The 4A+ Health team will work on an applied health leadership project to reduce bullying and improve education and access to mental/behavioral health resources and public health outcomes. According to data gathered by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans reported the highest rate of bullying in classrooms and on school grounds, nearly 20% and 10% higher than any other racial or ethnic group, respectively.

The team assembled to address this issue is: Asian American leader and former Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services executive Vince Cobalis; licensed professional counselor (LPC) supervisor and licensed marriage and family therapist supervisor Thao Phan of Austin-Bee Caves Counseling; Educator, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) mentor and LPC intern Nicole Williams of St. Andrews Episcopal School; and Program Specialist Peteria Chan of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In response to the project's direction and what the community can expect, Cobalis, Phan, Chan, and Williams state: "We will collaborate with community members, families, schools and businesses to raise awareness, promote resources, and reduce bullying in our rapidly growing Asian American population. Our approach seeks to maximize health equity and access to wellness resources."

Carmen Rita Nevarez MD, MPH, Vice President for External Relations and the Center for Health Leadership Program's Director states of the chosen teams that "These are the types of leaders who will ultimately be able to drive critical efforts, such as the adoption of evidence-based policies and practices at the community level, which can have a tangible impact on health outcomes." She further notes that, the NLAPH program will impart population health teams with the skills to lead across sectors and collaboratively solve complex population health problems in innovative ways,"

4A+Health is one of 29 teams in the nation and one of two in Texas selected for this fellowship. NLAPH will provide training and support at no cost to the participants or the community to assist 4A+Health in addressing youth bullying in the Asian American community. Dr. Arthur Chen, NLAPH representative and coach/mentor for the 4A+ Health team will be visiting Austin on June 16/17 to meet with the team and local stakeholders.

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