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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

A community of consumers: Voices of the movement

Dorothy Garrison, Universal Human Rights, Inc., 31 Heath Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, 617-522-2020, palestineg@hotmail.com, Elmer Freeman, MSW, Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, 716 Columbus Avenue, Suite 398, Boston, MA 02120, and Ellen Hafer, MTS, MBA, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, 100 Boylston Street, Suite 700, Boston, MA 02116.

The “War on Poverty” programs, from which community health centers developed, were designed to promote revitalization and economic development in urban and rural communities and called for “maximum feasible participation” of community residents, program participants, service consumers, and primary users in the governance and policy making of these health, human service and housing programs. Community health centers to this day continue this policy of consumer based governance in that a majority of the members of their boards of directors must be individuals who utilize the services of the health center.

Many of the “consumer” voices that lend power to the community health center movement come from the parent councils of Action for Boston Community Development's Headstart, the policy boards of Model Cities, the tenant associations in public housing, and the many people active in voluntary associations found in communities, both urban and rural, across the country willing to take responsibility for development of the quality of life in their communities. The voices of some of the founders and board members of the earliest health centers in the city will be presented in this session. Their commitment to the vision and core consumer values of the community health center movement have made them strong advocates, leaders and agents of change. The role of these leaders in the struggle for social justice and health equity continues in today's health system as the call for the elimination of racial ethnic disparities in health promoting participation in community-based coalitions such as Critical MASS.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Community Health Centers, Human Rights

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Community Health Center Movement: 40 Years Promoting Social Justice and Health Equity for the Underserved

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA