On April 19, 2008, The University of Arizona’s (UA) U.S.-Mexico Binational Center and Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP) team coordinated a “Fundamentals of Toxicology” workshop for the Community Assist of Southern Arizona community health advocates (promotoras). A total of 19 female promotoras and one male promoter ventured to the UA campus for this half-day training session. Dr. A. Jay Gandolfi and Dr. Mercedes Meza, taught the session while Ms. Rocio Estrella served as the event translator. To help facilitate the training, the promotoras were encouraged to bring their children. Science educational activities were provided by Flandreau Planetarium Science Center at the UA. Both Ms. Monica Ramirez and Ms. Denise Moreno Ramirez helped guide the children on their science exploratory activities.
The training objective was to increase the promotoras level of knowledge in toxicology and epidemiology from both the Mexican and American academic perspective. Dr. Gandolfi focused on the fundamentals of toxicology while Dr. Meza described epidemiological studies and provided a case study from Sonora’s Yaqui Valley (Valle del Yaqui). Presentations were produced specifically for the promotoras and provided culturally sensitive examples to which they could easily relate. During the training, participants received copies of the presentations and other materials, which they can draw upon during the home visits they are required to complete.
By providing new and unique training, promotoras now have the opportunity to increase their knowledge base and fundamental science understanding in the diverse disciplines that fall under the theme of environmental science. This on-campus training has fostered interactions with UA faculty and staff, providing the promotoras with a collection (or selection) of professionals they can go to for more information. This training clearly demonstrates how the UA’s Binational Center and SBRP work diligently to decrease the gap between academia and the community. The science generated at the UA is being readily translated by the Binational Center and SBRP for citizens, proving to be an effective, empowering tool for communities.