Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey is an Associate Professor of Public Health at William Paterson University and the creator and director of the HeartSmarts cardiovascular health education research program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. HeartSmarts aims to improve cardiovascular health disparities.
Dr. Tettey is an expert in faith-based health education and has been featured in The New York Times, ABC News, and The Harlem Times. She holds a Doctorate in Health and Behavior Studies with a concentration in Health Education from Columbia University, a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, and an MBA in Health Care Administration. She is also a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES®). Dr. Tettey is a member of The Office of Minority Health Professorial Advisory Council (PAC) and The Research Group on Disparities in Health at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
The HeartSmarts program was developed by Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey to empower people to live heart healthy lifestyles. Cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics in underserved communities are at the greatest risk for both heart disease and stroke. The good news is that cardiovascular disease is largely preventable. The goal of the HeartSmarts program is to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in underserved communities.
Through HeartSmarts we would like to partner with your organization to educate the members about heart disease and its prevention. We will do this by training Lay Health Ambassadors, free of charge, to lead an education program about heart disease prevention for your community.
Lay Health Ambassadors play a key role in promoting better health throughout communities by teaching and empowering others. We strongly believe that this endeavor will be greatly beneficial to all involved.
Some of the topics that are addressed in HeartSmarts are:
• Heart Disease
• High Blood Pressure
• Stress Management
• Physical Activity
Heart disease & stroke is the No. 1 killer in women, and stroke disproportionately affects African-Americans. Importantly, African-American women are less likely than Caucasian women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death.
Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity and a family history of heart disease are all greatly prevalent among African-Americans and are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. What’s more, African-American women have almost two times the risk of stroke than Caucasians, and more likely to die at an earlier age when compared to women of other ethnicities.
Here are a few unsettling stats:
By: Ari Daniel
The team at Hip Hop Public Health says that hip-hop offers something extra when it comes to the information they're trying to relay. Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, a hip-hop pioneer formerly in the seminal group Run-DMC, says "it speaks in a youthful, fun, understandable way" while packing the intensity of punk rock or rock and roll.
The organization has created more than 200 resources to date ranging from music videos to lesson plans to educator toolkits on topics including nutrition, mental health, physical activity, dementia, oral health, vaccine literacy, and disease prevention.
Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey, the director of an education and empowerment program for cardiac health called HeartSmarts, applauds the work of Hip Hop Public Health. She says that it "empowers young people to be focused on their health and wellness" at an age when their peers generally have other concerns.
Tettey also acknowledges one potential drawback. After motivating a young person to make changes to improve their health, she says they might think, "'OK, I just learned in hip-hop ed that I should eat more fruits and vegetables, but I can't find that where I live.' Or, 'I've been told I need to exercise more, but perhaps I'm not comfortable walking outside where I live.'"
In other words, Tettey points to societal issues that may make altering one's behavior more difficult than a song suggests. For instance, she says that parents, who may just be "trying to put dinner on the table," may find it challenging to serve more fruits and vegetables and fewer fried foods.
But Tettey says these difficulties pale in comparison to the good that the program is doing. She says, "it's a consciousness raiser, which means it makes you start thinking about something. And to start thinking about these things at a young age is just amazing."
Doug Evans is a wellness practitioner, health food entrepreneur, and author of “The Sprout Book,” a low cost, accessible guide on how to obtain all necessary nutrients through sprouts. The book has been recognized by leading health and wellness experts. Evans believes that sprouts could be one of the solutions to food deserts and food insecurity.
For the summer Food as Medicine series, HeartSmarts participants under the leadership of Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey, learned how to sprout with Doug Evans and Rebbeca and Harley Matsil of Perfect Foods, Inc.
They are caregivers, advocates, visionaries, disruptors, allies, and change-makers. And although they come from many different disciplines, they share a common purpose: to reduce health disparities in communities of color.
To mark Black History Month, Health Matters spoke to nine Black health care providers who are leading programs to address health inequities and effect social change. We asked about this year’s national theme of “Black Resistance” and what motivates them to do their work.
Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey
Director of HeartSmarts, a health education research program to reduce cardiovascular disease in underserved communities.
What drives you to do the work of improving health equity?
Knowing that members of the African American community are dying prematurely from preventable diseases is what motivates me to work to improve health equity. Knowledge is power, and a vital step towards reaching health equity. HeartSmarts provides participants with the knowledge they need to become advocates for their health and the health of their communities.
What role should the medical community play?
The medical community must remove the barriers that contribute to health disparities and provide resources and care that address the structural determinants of health.
What does the theme “Black Resistance” mean to you?
Black resistance involves overcoming oppressive forces through resilience, empowerment, and action.
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) is extremely proud of the many health CHES® and MCHES® who serve as essential personnel in the continual fight against this global pandemic. They have assumed critical roles in the identification, control, and assurance of the needs of individuals and communities. They advocate fiercely for public protection measures, and support many other critical health education and health behavior measures during these very difficult times. As our nation moves forward in addressing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a competent certified health education workforce will be as significant and essential as ever before.
The following is part of a new series to highlight the amazing work efforts of our credential-holders.
What started as a project in two sections of a public health course at William Paterson University led to the collection of more than 2,500 feminine hygiene products that were donated last month to the University’s Pioneer Pantry and the New Jersey Reentry Cooperation.
Each semester, as part of the Disparities in Health courses that she teaches, associate professor of public health Naa-Solo Tettey creates a service learning project for her students. In the spring 2020 semester, she implemented a project on menstrual equity, called “Period Power.”
“I decided on this project after listening to interviews of formerly incarcerated women, who shared the horrors that women face in prison with rationed maxi pads ad tampons—sometimes one pad or tampon per day—and the difficulty in obtaining these products once released,” Tettey explains. “I conducted more research and realized this is a major issue and emerging movement throughout the country, not only for formerly incarcerated and homeless women, but also for women and girls from various backgrounds.”
The Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley Chapter will hold a Virtual Purple Sunday Kickoff event at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, via Zoom. This kickoff is designed to introduce people unfamiliar to Purple Sunday to the program and increase general awareness of Alzheimer’s and other dementia in the African American and Hispanic communities through houses of worship. While anyone is welcome to attend this free webinar, organizers would particularly like to invite local faith leaders and their spouses, deacons, stewards and health ministry members.
The program will feature two guest speakers, starting with Naa-Solo Tettey, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Public Health at William Patterson University, who will speak on “Matters of the Heart: Tips for Caregiver Wellness.” Tettey is the creator and director of HeartSmarts, which aims to improve health disparities related to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension in the African American community. An expert in faith-based health education,she holds a doctorate in health and behavior studies from Teachers College, Columbia University, a master of public health degree from the University of Connecticut and an MBA in health care administration from the State University of New York. She is also a master certified health education specialist certified in public health and an American College of Sports Medicine certified wellness coach.
In order to dismantle social injustices, we must first understand them. Join Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey (Professor of Public Health and Creator of HeartSmarts), Rashad Robinson (President of Color of Change), and Stephanie L. Young (Managing Director for Culture, Communications & Media Partnerships at When We All Vote) for a conversation about the history of racism and its effect on the systems that impact our lives. Learn more about the history of inherent racism and how we can help dismantle social injustice. This panel will be moderated by Shadé Akande, Meetup’s VP of People.
Students in William Paterson University’s Public Health Club presented a collection of clothing, toiletries, and non-perishable food donated by the campus community to the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, a nonprofit group that helps formerly incarcerated individuals and their families.
“This is the second year we have conducted this drive,” says Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey, associate professor, public health, and advisor to the club. “This really connects students with what they're learning in class and makes it real for them, emphasizing the importance of civic engagement and helping those who may not have as much as they do."
The event, called "Moving Beyond the Bars," is being held to mark National Public Health Week.
"Mass incarceration is one of the greatest public health challenges facing the United States," said Naa-Solo Tettey, a William Paterson professor of public health, who will moderate the discussion.
"Involving students in the criminal justice reform movement is vital for creating positive change," she added.
While modern society has started recognizing the individual contributions of women, the Community Council of the NYPD’s 113th Precinct on Monday honored three Southeast Queens individuals who have risen to the ranks of local leadership. Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), Queens Supreme Court Justice Hon. Cheree A. Buggs, and Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital were the honorees at the group’s monthly meeting in commemoration of March as Women’s History Month.
Cardiovascular disease disproportionately impacts African-Americans, but one program is fighting the epidemic with prayer.
As part of her work regarding criminal justice reform, Dr. Tettey took a group of her students to tour New Jersey State Prison. The tour was very educational and touched upon all aspects of public health. Students were able to witness how the inmates live and explore some major public health issues such as policies surrounding transgender inmates and undiagnosed/untreated mental illness.
The highlight of the trip was meeting with two inmates and having an in-depth conversation with them about their experiences. They have both been incarcerated for 30 years and are serving life sentences. They discussed the many social determinants that are leading to mass incarceration including the school to prison pipeline and poverty. This was a full circle moment for the students because these are the topics they discuss in their health disparities class.
Dr. Tettey is an associate professor of public health at William Paterson University. She teaches courses in health behavior theory, health administration, and health disparities. Her main research interests are in health disparities and health equity, social media and health, and criminal justice reform.
Understanding the social determinants of health, health equity, and social justice from a social ecological perspective is vital for public health students. This paper provides an example of a creative method for teaching health disparities, using the HBO television series The Wire. The pedagogical strength of The Wire for public health courses is presented, a framework for using this media text in the classroom is shared, and implications for classroom instruction are explored. The Wire is an innovative and effective teaching tool for teaching health disparities and engaging the next generation of public health educators.
Internet-based health interventions continue to be popular and effective, and one area of focus of such interventions is weight loss. Although African-American women are regular users of Internet-based health interventions, there is a dearth of research regarding Internet usage and website preferences of this group. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between website attributes that influence African American women to use health-related websites, their stage of change for using the Internet to access information on health care, and predictor variables for website ratings
Faith-based health education programs are effective in improving the health of participants. Specifically, programs facilitated by churches have provided much-needed health resources and information to underserved communities. Research in this area has focused primarily on the effectiveness of faith-based health interventions. However, it is also important to highlight potential barriers to program implementation. The purpose of this paper is to share the lessons learned from the HeartSmarts faith-based cardiovascular health education program in regard to issues that could occur at the beginning of the program.
African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular disease (CVD). Faith-based institutions provide a non-traditional route for health education targeted at African-Americans. This paper describes HeartSmarts, a faith-based CVD education program. Evidence-based literature was used to develop a curriculum, which was tailored by integrating biblical scripture representing aspects of health behaviors. There were 199 participants of which 137 provided feedback via open-ended surveys indicating that HeartSmarts was well accepted and effective for disseminating CVD health messages while engaging spirituality.
Congratulations to Dr. Tettey for being inducted into The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Bergen/Passaic Chapter (NCBW). NCBW is a community advocacy organization made up of progressive women of African descent whose voice and force for gender equity and socio-political advancement drive meaningful change to benefit women of color. NCBW Bergen/Passaic advocates on behalf of Black women and girls through national and local actions and strategic alliances that promote its national and international agendas on leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment.
Under the leadership of Dr. Tettey, students and faculty at William Paterson University conducted a successful holiday collection drive for NJ Reentry where they collected clothes, toiletries, food, and books. The New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC) is a non-profit agency with a social mission to remove all barriers to employment for citizens returning from incarceration.