Toward A Comprehensive Community Health Collaborative

COMMUNITY UNITED TO REFORM EDUCATION
THE NEW ORLEANS HEALTH DEPARTMENT
A. P. TUREAUD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
NEW ORLEANS’ CENSUS TRACT 27 NEIGHBORHOOD

 
Toward A Comprehensive Community Health Collaborative
Efforts to improve the quality of life for citizens may focus at the individual, family, organizational, community, or societal levels, but multi-level strategies may be most effective and appropriate (Institute of Medicine, 2001). The proposed Community Health Collaborative project is built on a foundation of success experienced within an elementary school located in a particularly distressed community location (i.e., Census Tract 27). Over more than three years a diverse set of agencies have supported activities of education reform within the A.P. Tureaud elementary school. These efforts were specifically directed to achieve “Healthy Children,” but all the while project leadership and participants understood “Healthy Households” and “Healthy Community” were necessary companion goals. This proposed project will implement an appropriate, multi-level program of support for the focus school and community.
 
Background
CURE, Community United to Reform Education, was formed by community activists to develop and strive for a vision regarding education for the 21st century. An extended participative process resulted in an agreed-upon perspective. Subsequently, consultation by CURE members resulted in a “Classroom Management System” being introduced to the A.P. Tureaud elementary school teacher corp. At that time, the school was ranked 138 of 139 elementary schools in Louisiana. Members of CURE committed themselves to working constructively to transform this school through engagement with the community and supportive partners. This transformation focused on informing community members and school personnel to build their understanding of education as a public health issue. This overall perspective was at the heart of the “21st Century Community Learning Center” project developed by CURE, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and presently active. In recent months, CURE and its partners have experienced major progress in developing the school and its surrounding community into a “learning society” (Senge, 1990) and putting the principles of “emotional intelligence” into practice.
 
Overview of Approach
The proposed Community Health Collaborative project will expand current activities to include activation of community-driven strategies appropriate for promoting “Healthy Households” and a “Healthy Community.” The general approach to be applied by this project reflects lessons learned earlier and are directly aligned with strategies endorsed by the Institute of Medicine (2001, pgs 13-14) including:
· the importance of the community, rather than outside organizer, in defining needs and priorities;
· the need for an initial and continuing community diagnosis and assessment to identify and build on community strengths and resources;
· the flexible implementation of theories and methodologies, tailoring them to a particular community context;
· the importance of using participatory and empowering approaches to evaluate community-level change interventions;
· the necessity of long-range planning and developing diversified bases of funding.
 
In addition to these strategies, leadership and potential partners in the proposed Collaborative will place emphasis on the following attributes:
· the use of multi-level supportive interventions; selecting interventions that show social validity and support in research; and using ongoing program evaluation as a basis for decision-making and problem-solving
 
Proposed Implementing Activities
The proposed Comprehensive Community Health Collaborative will expand its vision to represent a “healthy community model” and will expand project management to enable this vision. Major implementing activities include the following:
· communications campaign featuring community-specific logo
· community-wide expression of two slogans, “Grow Y’Self” and “Grow Home,” to structure communication to promote health at the individual and community levels
· organized outreach to foster the emergence of “a learning society” (see Senge, 1990)
· imbed principles of “emotional intelligence” in all facets of project operation
· integrate the resources of supportive partners to address needs and potential of the community at all levels
Leadership of CURE is fully prepared to build on its foundation of success to implement the multi-level, constructive project needed for promoting pervasive health in the focus community.
 
Potential for Community-Focus and Inter-Agency Support
A strong and relevant array of resources are available to support the expanded project introduced above. These resources include:
· an expanded CURE so full community representation is achieved
· personnel of Tulane University
· support of the New Orleans Health Department
· involvement of the Human Development Center, LSU Health Sciences
· establishment of “CURE 2″ as a for-profit funding resource
 
This expanded vision and comprehensive approach to the proposed project are aligned with acknowledged best practice for community development and responsive to the needs and characteristics of the focus community.
 
References
Institute of Medicine (2001). Health and behavior: The interplay of biological, behavioral, and  societal influences. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
 
Senge, P.M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
 

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