207938 Using Social Networking As a Tool to Strengthen a Peer Network Working to Improve Food and Physical Activity Environments in California: Opportunities and Challenges

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 12:45 PM

Michele Silver, BA , Partnership for the Public's Health, Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA
Kevin Cloud, BA , Partnership for the Public's Health, Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA
California Convergence is an effort to bring together community leaders across the state working to prevent obesity and chronic disease by improving food and physical activity environments. The goal of converging these leaders is to promote synergy of efforts across communities, accelerating the change they are influencing at the local level. Learning from peer leaders in other communities is one of the most powerful ways to proliferate change, and these leaders have not had the time or the mechanisms to do this effectively. California Convergence created a virtual peer learning network using the social networking site Ning to help leaders stay connected, learn from each other, share stories, successes, and challenges, and to reduce information and resource overload. Peer learning happens most effectively in-person, however this is not always possible for community leaders. Technology can be a powerful tool to strengthen and support an existing network. At the same time, this technology is new and uncomfortable for many users. The experience within California Convergence reveals some of the challenges but also the opportunities in turning these tools to the task of supporting public health advocacy and community change. Six months into the effort, we look at progress to date, hurdles, and future potential of this tool.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how social networking tools have been utilized to promote peer learning and sharing among leaders in California. 2. Assess most useful features of social networking and how to use them.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Michele Silver is the California Convergence Coordinator for Partnership for the Publicís Health, coordinating an effort bringing together over 40 communities across California working at the cutting edge of improving food and physical activity environments through environmental and policy change. Prior to this, she was a Program Assistant for PPH, supporting the organization in its role as the program office for The California Endowmentís Healthy Eating Active Communities Initiative. Before joining PPH, Michele worked at Prevention Institute, assisting the Executive Director and supporting projects related to community health. She graduated from Brandeis University with degrees in Sociology and Health: Science, Society, and Policy.
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.