Pacific’s Public Health Leaders

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Reproductive Justice Action Team recognized for public health efforts

   In the first week of April, countless gatherings were held across the country in celebration of this year’s National Public Health Week. On Friday, April 5 in Washington County, dozens of organizations and workers in public health mingled with their fellow contributors and recognized good work done over the past year, all while continuing their year-round efforts in health service. Booths were made of groups who educated their fellow patrons on proper CPR training, pregnancy resources, and other health care efforts. During the meetup, Washington County Department of Human Services celebrated Pacific University’s Reproductive Justice Action Team (RJAT) as emerging leaders in public health. 

   The award was given as an accumulation of all the work RJAT has done so far. The group has been busy in their efforts to make a change since they were established a couple of years ago. RJAT first formed as a result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, in hopes of educating and supporting students on reproductive justice. Since then, the team has been a major part of the conversation here at Pacific involving several aspects of reproductive health. 

   “In response to the fall of Roe, some staff and faculty and students got together to think about, ‘What can we do in Oregon to promote reproductive justice?’,” Nikko Macklin, the RJAT coordinator, explains. “We’ve been having a lot of conversations about abortion and adequate access to [reproductive] health.”

   This year, the team has held several events in promotion of reproductive justice, from inviting people to Pacific to talk about topics like abortion, or finding ways to foster a safe community for people to raise their children. The club has also raised money for different reproductive health funds. 

   In anticipation of this year’s National Public Health Week, Adelle Monteblanco, an assistant professor of public health at Pacific, took notice of the team’s efforts. Monteblanco nominated the members of RJAT for the Washington County Department of Human Services Emerging Public Health Leader Award. The award, as the department’s website explains, recognizes “a youth or youth-related group that promotes healthy communities and making healthy lifestyle choices”. 

   “[Monteblanco] wanted to nominate us to recognize the hard work we’ve been doing both on campus and within the community at Forest Grove,” Macklin elaborates. “Then I heard back from the county saying that we won the award.”

   At the ceremony, RJAT had the opportunity to meet up with other public health groups and discuss collaborative ways that they can provide for their communities (including one connection with Nurturely, which RJAT did fundraising work for on Earth Day). 

   In the future, the team looks forward to continuing the conversation in reproductive justice both on and off campus with the help of their new partnerships made during National Public Health Week. 

   “I think for next year, we’re going to be focusing on a lot of ways that we can invite students to get involved.” Macklin adds. With this goal in mind, RJAT is looking ahead to planning both educational and collaborative events (including a few art projects) on campus. 


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