Passing the BALL we are in this together

People Behind BALL


Since 2009, Asian Media Access has been working on the health disparities impacting communities of people of color in North Minneapolis. In 2012, an informal Community Needs Assessment revealed that many African American women reported that they do not take advantage of health services because there are too many “hoops to jump through.” Asking for services, they said, was an embarrassing and shameful experience. Service providers “act like they are better than” those asking for help. One woman feared that hospitals used different standards of care for people of color. Another shared that a hospital had misdiagnosed her illness and overcharged her for services, and that the staff did not explain the available services while treating her poorly.


The Somali community, specifically, also echoed similar experiences here in the North-side Minneapolis area.  They expressed the basic need for information in their own language, both written communication, as well as interpreters, to assist them in accessing health care. They noted several problems that were related to health care: lack of access to a local pharmacy, lack of culturally-appropriate nursing homes, the need for time allowed for interpretation in their consults with doctors and nurses, and lack of transportation overall. Hmong Participants reported that they wanted better health care as they felt “clinics are too busy and do not treat people with respect.” They also wanted to learn where they could go and what services were available.


With these barriers, AMA has been seeking various ways to improve access to healthcare systems, and increase/improve the clinical and community linkage.  We have been working on a Bicultural Healthy Living Framework ever since.  Due to our current healthcare system’s lack of holistic disease management process for patients with different cultural backgrounds, bicultural individuals and families often run into the following roadblocks to proper healthcare.


  1. Health Care professionals see culture as static, not part of the healing system. On the contrary, immigrant patients bring in their own perspectives of healthy living with different diets, and alternative medications. Few of them can advocate for infusing different and natural practices to find a better way to treat and manage chronic disease, leaving them no choice but to adhere to western methods they might not understand, or go with traditional/cultural practices and/or beliefs.


  1. Linguistic diversity is the first barrier to exploring new and creative ways for the treatment of such diverse cultures, and is more often than not, seen as more of a burden than an opportunity to learn. Often, providing information in various languages and/or interpreters is seen as a hindrance, and intercultural dialogue is rarely seen as an opportunity to explore new and creative ways to treat a culturally diverse population.


  1. The Complementarities between Patient’s traditional knowledge and scientific evidences are not explored. Integration of alternative medicine and traditional healing practices have limited exploration for their potential for wider application, therefore the complementarities between indigenous knowledge and scientific evidences are yet to be fully discovered. These are missed opportunities through not embedding cultural components within the treatment process.  Although most health care documents acknowledge cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue as important to the patient’s treatment process, these are not supported in the practices. As such, the lack of connection between treatment, and the patient’s cultural background leads to many missed opportunities.


This is important in order to develop the ability to empower the patients to feel connected and feel ownership to their own treatment. They do not explicitly promote the creation of intercultural partnerships either, which are essential in Bicultural Healthy Living processes to allow different worldviews and ambitions to influence and inform the pathway to a better holistic approach.  This is a missed opportunity as intercultural dialogue is necessary in order to share values and advance the patients’ health.


  1. Bicultural stakeholders and interest groups have little voice in the development, implementation, and evaluation of health care policies. Policies fail to establish relationships among critical, systemic thinking and cultural elements, and they are not using a multicultural approach as a means to promote the holistic health concept.


Therefore, Asian Media Access has taken on the initiative to design the Bicultural Healthy Living Framework to overcome the above barriers.  After one year of work, we have successfully mobilized the community to support the Bicultural Healthy Living Framework and developed a 16 Areas of Key Focuses, and BALL Campaign has addressed 5 areas within the 16, highlighted in yellow:

Engage in Healthy Living

  • Understanding Bicultural Healthy Eating
  • Practicing Bicultural Active Living
  • Reducing Smoking and Substance Abuse
  • Supporting Prevention, Early Detection and Chronic Disease Management

Develop Financial Security and Asset Building

  • Building strong Financial Literacy among Individuals
  • Building Community Asset through sustainable economic development
  • Establishing Diverse Career Pathways
  • Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Co-Op Development

Ensure Educational Successes

  • Creating a Win-Win Relationship with Schools
  • Hosting Afterschool Programs for Students Success
  • Providing diverse options for students for post-secondary education
  • Developing Comprehensive Adult Education/Vocational Training

Build Strong Culture, Inter-Person, Family, and Community Relationships

  • Addressing Mental Health issues from a communitywide perspective
  • Improving Community Safety and Security
  • Building a Healthy Community Physical Infrastructure
  • Promoting the Bicultural Healthy Living Framework to acknowledge the Community Needs and Successes at all levels

Multi Cultural Community Alliance (MCCA) has formed for the common cause of BALL and what it embodies and contributes, its members are:

  • Asian Media Access – Lead Agency
  • African Immigrants Community Services (AICS)
  • Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)
  • LVY Foundation
  • Oromo Community of Minnesota
  • Pathway Learning Center (PLC)
  • Pan Asian Arts Alliance (PAAA)
  • Project Sweetie Pie (PSP)
  • RadioASIA (Asian Station IAmerica)
  • Slavic Community Center (SCC)
  • Somali Community Resettlement Services (SCRS)
  • Wind Ferry
  • University of MN
  • Zintkala Luta