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CHL Team and TASA role models receive WHO Healthy Islands Recognition 2015 award!

SAIPAN, CNMI.  In Chamorro culture, the latte stone has come to symbolize the strength, vitality, and perseverance of the Chamorro people. The top of the latte stone, described as a hemispheric cup, is called “tasa”; literally meaning “cup” in Chamorro. Today, the word “tasa” is also used to describe a group of “can-do”, volunteer residents whose hearts are committed to improving the health of those who reside in Tanapag, Achugao, San Roque, and As Matuis (TASA).

TASA role models putting their muscle and hearts where their dreams are.

TASA role models putting their muscle and hearts where their dreams are.

In her email notifying Patricia Coleman of Northern Marianas College of the selection, Wendy Snowdon of WHO said, “We received many excellent applications for this category which demonstrate the vision of Healthy Islands. Your application on  ‘TASA role models’ demonstrated all the aspects of a Healthy Islands initiative, and I am extremely pleased to advise you that you have been awarded ‘Best Practice”.  Tayna Belyeu-Camacho, role model facilitator and site co-investigator, and Pat Falig, TASA treasurer, went to Fiji to receive the award on behalf of the CNMI. They were joined by ministers from 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.

Team CNMI commented, “We are immensely proud of these outstanding volunteers of TASA. We would also like to thank Public School System, Head Start Program, GTC Elementary School, Head Start Program, Dept. of Public Health-WIC, and I-Mart for all of their partnership. Tayna Belyeu-Camacho, Jesse Deleon Guerrero, Marilynn Duenas, and Frankie Elliptico have played major roles in working with TASA. Their hard work and earnest desire to empower communities to lead changes in villages is inspiring!”

TASA`s goal is to enhance the health of children and families in the villages of Tanapag, Achugao, San Roque, and As Matuis through improving the food, built, and social environments that children and families live, attend school, and play in. The group accomplishes this goal by partnering with the Northern Marianas College, the CNMI Public School System, the CNMI Head Start Program, village grocery stores, government agencies, private agencies, and existing community groups.

The award submission highlighted TASA and NMC-CREES CHL accomplishing the following 1) In partnership with PSS and GTC, implementation of a School Wellness Policy 2) Enhancing the built environment through public playground rebuilding and painting physical activity prompts at GTC, Tanapag Head Start, and other public places 3) Encouraging physical activity through equipment loaner program (balls, cones, jump ropes) for families 4) Comprehensive social marketing campaign lead by Frankie Elliptico of NMC External Relations Office which included working with I-Mart to include a fruit and vegetable section in the store, a section for healthy “school approved” snacks in addition to several other evidence-based enhancements. The social marketing campaign also focused of sign boards and dissemination of tip sheets to children and their families. Elliptico worked with CHL team and TASA role models to design the comprehensive, evidence-based, and community-informed social marketing campaign.

Rachel Novotny, childhood overweight and obesity expert and CHL Principal Investigator, congratulated TASA and the NMC-CREES CHL Team, “Team CNMI has truly run with opportunities, and we are amazed at what has been generated.  Inspiring!  Congratulations and thank you for being a role model for the world community!”

The non-profit TASA role model group is composed of community members who reside in one of the following villages: Tanapag, Achugao, San Roque, and As Matuis. These villages are located next to each other on the island of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. TASA is comprised of Pat Falig, Elaine Iguel, Abraham Falig, Tricia Tenorio, Trini Repeki, Chailang Palacios, Eilene Babauta, Lori Serna, Pam Carhill, Jodhi May Norita, Juanna Pua, Connie Cepeda, Polly Omechelang, and Marlene Cruz.

TASA thanked the CHL Coordinating Center, Intervention Group Leads Jeannie Butel, Claudio Nigg, and Kathryn Braun and Northern Marianas College-CREES for all of the support and assistance. The group gave a special “si yu’us maase yan olomwaay” (“thank you and blessings”) to Rachel Novotny for including the CNMI in the CHL grant proposal.