The Albuquerque-UNM Medical Reserve Corps (ABQ-UNM MRC) recently was awarded a $20,000 MRC Challenge Award for Public Health Initiatives from the National Association of County and City Health Officials, in partnership with the U.S. Office of the Surgeon General. The award will be used to create a facilitated, video-based public health curriculum for distribution to educational and youth-based programs across the state.

The MRC Challenge Award funds MRC units to carry out innovative projects in their communities that can be replicated on a national level and align with one of four focus areas: community resilience; chronic disease prevention; partners for empowered communities; and mental and emotional well-being. ABQ-UNM MRC’s Public Health Action Curriculum for Teens aims to educate participants on the public health issues that can impact New Mexico communities the most, including chronic disease prevention, health equity and public health careers, emotional and mental well-being, first aid and CPR, and personal preparedness

The program's goals include creating an accessible and user-friendly public health curriculum specific to New Mexico and engaging organized youth groups in rural and urban areas. Curriculum videos will be offered on DVD and on YouTube. Webinars, games and activities for further learning also will be available to participants free of charge. Curriculum developers say it will improve health literacy while fostering proactive attitudes toward volunteerism and community focused achievements and increasing the visibility of public health careers.

“We’re proud to be a NACHHO Challenge Award recipient,” said ABQ-UNM MRC Unit Leader Luke Esquibel, who also is a UNM School of Medicine education and staff development specialist. “This award will enable us to educate New Mexico youth on the conditions of our state as a whole and encourage them to take action in their own lives and communities.”

ABQ-UNM MRC is part of the national network of volunteers and leaders engaged in local communities whose missions are to strengthen public health, improve the response to emergencies and build resiliency. Nearly 200 U.S. MRC units completed the application, and the top 29 most promising applicants received awards totaling nearly $600,000. ABQ-UNM MRC will begin its Public Health Action Curriculum for Teens program early this year.