Dr. Gail Christopher: Addressing Health Disparities Is “Not a We-They Conversation, It Is an Us Conv

May 04, 2011 | Written By:

On April 6, 2011, Healthy Schools Campaign and the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services convened a citywide forum on strategies to address health disparities and support student wellness and learning. At the forum, more than 400 attendees heard about the latest research on the impact of health disparities on student achievement and learned what education leaders at the local and national level are doing to address these disparities and support student success. 

This forum was a cornerstone of Heroes for Healthy Schools, the series of events that HSC co-hosted with the Office of Minority Health and Chicago Public Schools for National Minority Health Month. You can learn more about Heroes for Healthy Schools here

In the weeks ahead, we will spotlight the remarkable speakers who shared their perspectives on health disparities and education at the forum. Today, we are featuring Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President of Program Strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  

You may also view video of all the speakers' remarks, download the presentations they shared at forum, and see relevant research on HSC’s website


Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President of Program Strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, spotlighted local efforts to raise awareness around health and education disparities. She noted, 

“Chicago is a place that the nation is looking to for innovation, inspiration, and guidance around the issue that is absolutely the most important issue to this country’s future, the children.”

Dr. Christopher explained that disparities cannot be discussed independently from societal factors. She said,

“It is not a we-they conversation, it is an us conversation. This is not about those students, this is not about those families, this is about our nation and our children.”

In order to address these issues, Dr. Christopher proposed that the community equip educators, health practitioners, and political leaders and civic leaders to recognize the power of racism on the conscious and sub-conscious level and do away with it, adding that a focus on health and well-being can help mitigate the negative effects that exposures to racism have on children.  

See more of Dr. Gail Christopher’s call to action in the video above. You can also download the slides from her presentation. 

Stay posted for more footage from the Citywide Forum on Health Disparities and Education, including remarks from Dr. Charles Basch, Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education at Columbia University Teachers College; Terry Mazany, Interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools; and Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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