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Yearlong DEI series wraps Friday

Take two steps if you lived in a two-parent household growing up. Take two steps if you never had to go hungry. Take two steps if you never had to work through college.

Pastor Edward Palmer, a certified diversity trainer and community and youth activist, told the attendees at the fourth and final set of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training Thursday to take step after step if the shoe fit. 

Eventually, some attendees were near the finish line and others hadn’t moved an inch. And the race hadn’t even started yet. 

Palmer used the “equity race” exercise to demonstrate how people are afforded different advantages and disadvantages in their life, and to no fault of their own. 

Palmer said the exercise was intended to show attendees that some of us have to face certain barriers and challenges in life that others do not, so people shouldn’t judge one another. 

Palmer had returned  this week to present the remaining installment of the yearlong DEI series, “Tying It All Together.” The various sessions wrapped Friday at McCready Hall at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

In “Tying It All Together,” Palmer introduced participants to cultural humility, social determinants of health and why environment matters.

The training included practical exercises that revisited the concepts from previous trainings and increased the participant’s ability to address issues of race and culture personally and professionally. The session required participants to have undergone previous training.

At the end of the session, participants were able to:

— define key terms in the conversation around race and social construct

— define social determinants of health

— recognize how individual health and community health are related

— analyze how social determinants of health can impact an individual’s health and the health of the community

— and apply skills to aide in recognizing, discussing and addressing institutional racism, as well as race and cultural misunderstandings when they exist and occur.

Palmer said social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, live, grow, work and age impacts their health. Social determinants could include factors such as education, neighborhood, physical environment, employment, social support network, access to health care and more. 

“Addressing social determinants of health is important to improving health and reducing health disparities for marginalized groups,” Palmer said. 

Palmer said data shows access to treatment facilities for substance use disorders is more attainable for individuals who come from an affluent family; data also shows liquor stores, tobacco sheds and marijuana dispensaries (in states where it’s legal) are more likely to be in poor communities. 

Palmer went on to talk about the need to not only practice cultural competency but to practice cultural humility, which means people should strive to understand and acknowledge a person’s culture while also practicing an ongoing process of self-exploration and self-critique combined with a willingness to learn from others. Those who practice cultural competency and cultural humility enter relationships with another person with the intention of honoring their beliefs, customs and values.

Palmer concluded the session by thanking the organizers and participants in the series.

“This has been phenomenal for me,” Palmer said.

Palmer also applauded Winchester for stepping up and being proactive about diversity, equity and inclusion. He said he hopes the conversation doesn’t stop and that action will follow.

“My whole point is that you guys have done something phenomenal,” he said. “You need to be proud of yourself. And as a community, keep it going.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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