The UF Health Cancer Center’s Project CONTINUITY helped community members learn about cancer prevention and access health services during a free health fair featuring 15 community partners on Saturday, March 25 in Bo Diddley Plaza in downtown Gainesville.
Project CONTINUITY, an initiative of the Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement, provided education on breast, cervical and skin cancer prevention and shared information on the CONNECT registry that helps community members learn about COE events and research. The team’s clinical community navigators also provided attendees with at-home colorectal cancer screening tests, blood pressure screening and referrals to mammograms.
In addition, the UF Mobile Outreach Clinic, one of Project CONTINUITY’s clinical partners, provided medical care services at the event, called Strides for Better Health. UF research teams also shared information on studies and cancer survivors spoke during a panel session, stressing the importance of screening to catch and treat cancer early.
Shereka Nicole, M.Ed., a cervical cancer survivor and CEO and founder of the Gainesville nonprofit Premier Moms who is also a member of the Project CONTINUITY Steering Committee, discussed the importance of listening to your body and trusting symptoms.
“Never let fear stop you from helping yourself,” she said in encouraging people to visit a doctor if they feel something is off. “I would empower you, even if you have faith, it’s not saying that you have any lack of what you believe in or you’re not giving praise to your faith; it’s being a good citizen to yourself. You can get a second opinion or a third opinion, but at least get some type of information to go along with your faith.”
Community events like the fair are a vital component of the Cancer Center’s mission to advance health equity, said Pastor Gerard Duncan, a member of the Project CONTINUITY Steering Committee. “We want everyone in our community to be healthy, so we provide these opportunities as community partners to share information to those who may not necessarily have the ability to afford quality care,” said Duncan, senior pastor of Prayers By Faith Ministries.
Project CONTINUITY works with local communities and clinics to increase access to high-quality cancer prevention, detection and treatment services. It was launched to increase access to evidence-based cancer screenings, with an initial focus on cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccine uptake in vulnerable populations. Anyone needing care can call 352-359-5184.
Through Project CONTINUITY, the office of Community Outreach and Engagement works with local communities and clinics to increase access to high-quality cancer prevention, detection and treatment services. It was launched to increase access to evidence-based cancer screenings, with an initial focus on cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccine uptake in vulnerable (unserved and underserved) populations. Anyone needing care can call Project CONTINUITY’s navigation team at 352-359-5184.
In recent months, the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement has been growing its ranks to increase its impact in the community. It has added seven new staff members, including community health workers and research coordinators. The team also ensures its services are accessible to Hispanic community members by providing materials in Spanish and having translators on hand.
“We are thankful for our community partners, clinicians and research teams for joining us at Strides for Better Health,” said Jen Woodard, M.P.H., R.N., CCRP, director of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement. “Working together, we are able to make a lasting impact in the communities we reach through education, outreach and promoting access to evidence-based screening tests. We are stronger together.”
Special thanks to our community partners who participated in Strides for Better Health!
- Southern Regional AHEC Financial Services
- Rural Women’s Health Project/Let’s Talk About It
- Premier Moms
- ALEX (Agent Leveraging Empathy for eXams): Colorectal cancer education and research
- UF/IFAS: Healthy diet, colorectal cancer education and research
- Florida Area Health Education Centers (AHEC): Tobacco cessation resources
- Grace Grows
- Equal Access Clinic
- Black Parents Support Network
- Blossoming Butterfly (breast cancer survivorship)
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
- IMPACT: Knee, arthritis, pain and function study
- All of Us
- SPARC352: Space for People, Arts, Research and Creative Collaboration and Community