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Urban Health Accelerator


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Yes It’s Possible, Inspirational Stories


Gitanjali Rao

Gitanjali Rao was upset about the water crisis devastating families in Flint, Michigan. She had an idea that could help quickly and accurately monitor water for lead. With no money, sponsors or even a space, Gitanjali pushed forward. After being turned away by everyone and every lab and school in her area, she converted her small bedroom into a ‘science room, where she developed an affordable device that quickly and accurately detects lead in water. She’s been named by 3M, the leading global science company, as America’s Top Young Scientist.

– Gitanjali is 11 years old.


A Mother Desperate for Help, Creates a Tool that Detects Air Pollution for Her Asthmatic Son

When Nisha’s son developed severe asthma, mundane, daily routines would present potentially deadly circumstances for him. Her son was so sensitive to air pollutants that a simple outdoor play date with friends could place him in the hospital for breathing treatments. If people want to check the weather, you go to the weather channel. But there isn’t an air pollution channel. Kids and people like Nisha’s son suffer with uncertainty every time they walk out the door. So, Nisha, a bio-engineer, developed a tool that fits in the palm of her hand and can detect air quality in or outdoors. The resulting report, which includes details of what’s in the air, is then be sent to an app on her cell phone. Based on those results, she and her son can plan their day or she can have informed, productive conversations with her son’s medical team.

Visit: http://ambiencedata.com/about/


Mom and Daughter Join Forces to Help Washington, D.C. Students Have (at least) 300 Hunger Free Days

A little boy in the third grade was in the principal’s office at her daughter’s school. Darius wasn’t in the office for punishment because he did something wrong. He was in there because it was Friday before a long 3-day weekend break. The principal was arranging meals for him because he knew that Darius probably wouldn’t eat for those three days. But the principal was even more troubled because he knew that Darius was not an isolated case. There were many kids in the same predicament. The principal was sharing his concerns and worry with fellow parent Sharon Butler. She determined right then, that she knew what to do: have small, easy to prepare meals for the kids who need it. All of the foods would be passed out to kids in fun, colorful backpacks that also included games and books. With one school under her belt and 75 kids having fewer hunger days, Sharon is expanding the program to reach at least 300 kids this year.


A Former Naval Pilot Fights to Bring Down Barriers Between Heath and Social Services

While deployed in the Middle East, Lieutenant Daniel Brillman flew standard combat missions and as an officer, he was a trusted advisor to many soldiers facing being discharged and transitioning to civilian life. Returning soldiers have access to many resources or services but either didn’t know how to maneuver the many options and choices available or don’t trust ‘civilian systems.’ When Daniel was discharged, he too had the same experience and observed something else: a massive disconnect between health and social care. He was able to navigate the choices, but met many who couldn’t. The process for connecting a patient to the correct resources seamlessly didn’t exist. So, he built a platform that bridges information across the health spectrum, from medical to social care. Daniel’s military training mandated that nobody gets left behind. With his platform, UniteUS, he’s ensuring that everyone has what they need exactly when they need it.

Visit: http://www.uniteus.com


A Reformed Ex-Convict Converts Dilapidated, Abandoned Homes in Detroit for Returning Citizens

The son of immigrants, Mario Bueno experienced a broken home filled with violence, and drug abuse. He began his delinquent behavior at the age of twelve. In 1995, at the age of sixteen, he shot, robbed, and killed a twenty-seven-year-old local drug dealer. After 387 days in Oakland County Jail’s solitary confinement, he was convicted and sentenced to serve 22 to 40 years in the adult prison system of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).  Since his release, he has dedicated his life to safeguarding the community through the mentoring of the most at-risk populations including the imprisoned, returned citizens, and at-risk youth. His first act once back in the community was to convert abandoned homes in the City of Detroit for returning citizens who need a safe place to restart their lives.

Watch: https://youtu.be/th8QyJ1-PLI


A 21-year Old College Student Diverts 5,000lbs of Discarded Food to Families in Need

The US throws away about a third of its food supplies everyday. Maria-Rose Belding is a college student who has managed Type 1 diabetes and heart disease all of her life. Her success is due, in part, to having access to healthy foods. She was lucky because in the Philadelphia area, thousands of families go to bed hungry at night. But she also was aware of the massive amount of good food that was simply being thrown away. So, she developed a platform that allowed restaurants to alert food pantries that food was available for pick up. The food that is typically picked up is healthy and goes beyond the typical canned food boxes that families in need receive that may or may not be consistently healthy. Since Maria has launched her platform, it has helped divert over 5,000 pounds of food within a 6 month time frame. Because of the zip code she was born in, Maria is alive today. Every person deserves to have that same level of opportunity and access to healthy food, no matter where they live.

Visit: https://www.meansdatabase.com


A Marathon Runner Trains Black Churches to Run 5K Marathons

By the tender age of 10-years old, Nyasha Nyamapfene, had experienced more death and severe health issues in her immediate family than a little girl should. She vowed then that she would do all should could to make her family healthy. Her ambitious goals ranged from helping her family eat healthy to incorporating movement and exercise in their routines. Nyasha even raised the bar on herself and became a marathon runner. As she continued to grow and compete in these races, she observed her native city of Chicago and specifically members of her community in the church, struggle with obesity, diabetes and cancer. So, she set her sites on a new specific mission and that was to encourage members of her church to join her to run a 5K marathon. One of the volunteers was a woman who weighed over 300 pounds and had never run a day in her life. Nyasha became her coach and worked with her one mile at a time. On race day, the woman ran her 5K and the experience changed her life along with the life of the church. Since that race, thousands of new runners have trained to participate in 5K events eventually called Gospel Run, which combines racing with inspirational concerts to celebrate their achievements.

Visit: http://gospelrun.com/site/