OPINION – California Black Health Network has launched a Faith-based Health Initiative in Sacramento. Partnering with five churches in the Sacramento region, this faith-based initiative seeks to assist congregants in reaching their goals for realizing, conserving and sustaining health and well-being.

With the support of diagnostics like Fit Bits which can monitor activity and assist in tracking food intake, this new initiative will support the individual while gathering data that will inform and educate the participant about their daily activity and their food intake.

By “knowing their numbers” the individual participant should be able to make healthier, more informed, choices that lead to changes in behavior and ultimately sustainable and improved lifestyles.

This project is funded by The California Endowment and a global company, Alere, Inc., producers of the diagnostics and technology support used in the Initiative. California Black Health Network and Alere, Inc. have worked for almost a year in partnership with the California Black Pastors Association to determine the design, goals and objectives of the Initiative.

This project is very unique. We are not telling the pastors or their participating congregants what to do. We want them to tell us what health and well-being looks like for them and then we will support their efforts however we can. The project is also being studied to assist CBHN with developing advocacy and policy strategies around prevention aimed at ultimately improving health outcomes of the African American community.

Alere, Inc. is donating the Fit Bits and an android cell phone to each participant in the project. Cell phones can only be used for this project and are designed with a sim card that will track activity, monitor diet, and assist the participant in communicating with one another so that they can support and encourage each other to move toward their goals.

Churches are free to sponsor special health challenges, like Zumba, or basketball, or intramural sports challenges. Pastor Robert Jones, President of the California Black Pastors Association, says, “We’re even instituting FLASH Fridays. FLASH Friday stands for Faithfully Living Active to Sustain Health and every Friday, beginning in August, you will see people of faith, from around the City of Sacramento, out and about, “flashing.” They may be running, or walking, or stretching, or lifting, but they will be about the business of moving.”

CBHN and the Pastors hope FLASH Fridays will catch on and people of all faiths will get out and move, around the same time every Friday. It’s all about getting healthy or staying healthy.

For more information on the CBHN Faith-based Initiative, go to the California Black Health Network website at


By B. Darcel Lee

President & CEO
California Black Health Network

B. Darcel Harris Lee was hired in October 2010 as the Executive Director of the California Black Health Network, only the third director in the organization’s thirty-two history. She brings over 30 years of healthcare policy, legislative, and leadership experience to CBHN. She can be reached at or by calling CBHN at (916) 333-0613. The CBHN website is: