Who We Are & What We Do
The Gyedi Project, founded by Kweku Hazel, MD, and Cynthia Hazel, DrPH, MSc, is a grassroots community organization centered in Aurora, Colorado, aimed at empowering minority and underserved communities to tackle health inequities and improve community well-being. The Gyedi Project is focused on Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities in the Denver Metro area.
“Gyedi” (pronounced 'jee-di') is a Ghanaian Akan word that means "trust" or “believe”. It is also a noun that translates to “self-belief”. The concept of gyedi is fundamental to reversing learned helplessness around healthy living, with the goal of taking full control to overcome any obstacles towards cultivating healthy behaviors. We leverage the concept of gyedi as well as values of shared humanity such as “ubuntu” (which means ‘I am, because we are’), to build individual ownership of community health, increasing awareness about the importance of supporting one other on our individual and collective journeys to achieving better health. We emphasize the importance of gathering and sharing accurate and beneficial health knowledge that can better prepare the community to address ongoing health challenges and emerging health threats.
The project prioritizes community and sub-community engagement, health education outreach, and health professional trainings to improve access to health services that increase health equity among underserved communities.
Our mission is to empower minority and underserved communities to tackle health inequities and improve community well-being.
Our vision is to see historically marginalized communities take complete control of their health and realize their full health and life potential.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gyedi Project focused on three primary areas:
Educating community members about the COVID-19
Creating awareness and addressing vaccination hesitancy in minority communities in the Denver Metro area
Reducing barriers to vaccine access via community-based pop-up clinics
Addressing gaps in accessing COVID vaccines
The Gyedi project used education seminars, social media, and news channels to increase awareness about COVID-19 vaccines and address associated misinformation. While tackling vaccination hesitancy and apathy, we also created accessible channels to help address existing health service gaps through pop-up vaccination clinics. In our first three pop-up clinics held at the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Aurora, we administered a total of 2,116 vaccines over a two-month period. Approximately, 80% of vaccinated people were Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and were located mainly in Arapahoe, Adams, and Denver counties.
The Gyedi Project recognizes that historical, cultural, structural, and social factors profoundly shape health outcomes for minority and underserved communities and individuals. We use ethical, community-informed, and culturally responsive approaches for our programs and across all our community outreach work. These approaches consider the experiences, perspectives, and needs of different populations to address health disparities, including those stemming from race/ethnicity, disability status, socioeconomic status, geography, sexual orientation, gender (identity), and their intersections.
Our Values (PEDI)
Dr. Cynthia Hazel is a Doctor of Public Health and Executive Director of the Gyedi Project. She leads and supports projects focused on community and behavioral health, health equity innovation, maternal and child health, and program evaluation. Dr. Hazel received her Masters in Public Health Policy from Durham University in the United Kingdom, and her Doctor of Public Health degree from the Colorado School of Public Health, where she specialized in Community and Behavioral Health. Originally from Ghana, Dr. Hazel has also been involved in health promotion efforts focused on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in her city of Aurora, Colorado, especially the African immigrant and refugee community. Her recent work involves reducing inequities in vaccine distribution and reducing COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in Colorado’s BIPOC communities. Dr. Cynthia Hazel currently serves on the community advisory council of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. She is a 2023 Aspen Ideas: Health Fellow, and the 2023 recipient of the Colorado Public Health Association's Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Health Equity.
Dr. Kweku Hazel is the Co-Founder and Health Impact Director at Gyedi. He is also a board-certified general surgeon and Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his medical degree at Texas Tech School of Medicine in Lubbock, where he also started the Barbershop BP program which is aimed at educating communities of color about chronic health conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes. Dr. Hazel completed his general surgery residency in 2019 and has been involved with educating community members in Aurora through churches and community organizations since moving to Colorado in 2012. His recent efforts have been focused on promoting surgical equity, vaccination equity and vaccine acceptance, while improving health literacy in communities of color through cultural responsiveness training for health professionals.
Both Drs. Hazel are members of the Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce and serve on the community outreach and policy committees.
Nii Armah Sowah
Logistics Support; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist
Isaac Alawobu, MBA
Logistics Lead and Program Management
Ivonne Parra, MPH
Community Outreach Lead
Kanku Sumbundu, MPH
Community Engagement Lead
Registered Nurse, Medical Volunteer Coordinator
Stephen Asare, RN