Last week, Plan4Health coalitions joined grantees from the American Heart Association and the National WIC Association, along with representatives from the CDC, to discuss success, challenges, and next steps for the 97 communities funded through the Partnering4Health program. The meeting was held in Denver, Colorado, providing many opportunities for learning about the local healthy communities work underway in addition to the funded communities’ work.
Plenary sessions ranged from discussions of equity to sustainability. One session was all about storytelling and the speaker, Jay Walljasper, shared the following attributes of a great story:
- Offer the unexpected
- Be empowering
- Bust negative perceptions and build positive ones
- Highlight people working together to accomplish big things
- Use simple storylines and clear messages
- Tap into people’s aspirations
- Convey a sense of drama and a sense of humor
In addition to plenary sessions, the attendees participated in focus groups for in-depth discussions about project-related lessons learned, as well as a poster session, networking opportunities, and mobile tours.
One of the mobile tours highlighted the newly-completed Westminster light rail station. The tour guide provided the group with an overview of the development work being done in the surrounding areas to create affordable housing and accessible, walkable communities. The group also visited a mobile home community and discussed the practical challenges of owning a home, but not the land where it is situated. A “mobile home” that isn’t mobile. While in the area, the group conducted a walking audit of the accessibility and safety of the streets and pedestrian walkways in the area. Most of the areas received poor scores, due to the complete absence of sidewalks and the inaccessibility for those who have disabilities and require wheelchairs or other accommodations. The walking audit was insightful in considering what amenities must be considered when the goal is to include people of all abilities when building communities. The photos from the Westminster Station mobile tour can be seen on Flickr.
Another group visited Globeville, Elyria, Swansea, historic neighborhoods along Denver’s northern city limits that have had ongoing environmental and health challenges. Originally smelters and meat-packing plants employed immigrants from Eastern Europe; today, the neighborhoods are predominantly Latino, with residents facing health concerns from contaminated soils and groundwater as well as high levels of air pollution. When compared to the rest of Denver, residents in these communities suffer from higher asthma levels, obesity, and chronic disease rates. Several large projects are in the works for this area, with pressures that would change the character and conditions of the neighborhoods. This tour also included a walk audit, led by members of the Centralina Health Solutions Coalition.
In addition to the poster session, Plan4Health grantees were also able to share their stories via a video stream – check it out here!