204350 Holyoke En Marcha/Holyoke's Moving!: The Holyoke Model for community-driven assessment and prioritizing for policy and systems change

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jesus Espinosa , Community Leaders Council, Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Council, Holyoke, MA
Kevin Garcia , Holyoke Youth Commission, Holyoke, MA
Laura Pillsbury, MPPA , Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Council, Holyoke, MA
Minority populations in western Massachusetts's cities like Holyoke, with high rates of poverty and unsafe inner-city environments, suffer from elevated rates of obesity and related chronic diseases. Holyoke is distinguished by a high concentration of residents of Puerto Rican descent (39%). The city draws its strength from its proud diverse heritage, community, and energetic youth - 22 percent of Holyoke's residents are under the age of 15. The close proximity to nearly a dozen colleges and universities make the city a magnet for community-based health research. However, the research projects are rarely participatory, lacking a commitment to action and appropriate dissemination as part of the research process.

In 2007, Holyoke was selected by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to be one of nine communities in its Food & Fitness Initiative, resulting in the formation of the Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Council (HFFPC), a collaborative of community leaders primarily from the Latino community, youth from the Holyoke Youth Commission and staff from over 60 organizations and institutions. This session will describe how HFFPC partnered with residents, youth and academic institutions to use multiple participatory data collection methodologies (e.g. semi-structured interviews, surveys, market assessments, photovoice, and field observations) to inform a community action plan that will foster equity and improve community health. We will also discuss the process used to disseminate the findings, the participatory process used to prioritize policy and systems change targets, and limitations and challenges of this work.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the process for mobilizing community residents to action through participatory research 2. Demonstrate the community-driven process used to identify and prioritize policy and systems change targets 3. Articulate the lessons learned, successes, challenges and limitations of a participatory planning and assessment process

Keywords: Community Participation, Community Health Planning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I had a lead role in the design, coordination and guidance of the assessment and prioritization activities that will be discussed.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.