250420 Port Towns Wellness Opportunity Zone: Engaging community members in health planning and evidence-based approaches to eliminate disparities and promote healthy communities

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 9:30 AM

David C. Harrington , Port Towns Community Health Partnership Support Team, CommonHealth ACTION, Washington, DC
Celeste A. James , Community Health Initiative Mid-Atlantic Region (Community Benefit), Kaiser Permanente, Rockville, MD
This paper describes a community health partnership that has engaged residents (adults and youth), mayors and commissioners, faith-based community, schools, youth-serving organizations and businesses to address the social determinants of health in four towns that have joined together as a single entity. The towns' community development corporation and community-based organizations have been engaged in a two-year planning process with a healthcare provider through community benefit funds to implement an action plan which will move recommendations in a previously approved sector (land use) plan and evidenced-based strategies for healthy eating and active living. This paper will describe the process for how the area, the Port Towns in Prince George's county (MD), came to be legislated as a “Wellness Opportunity Zone.” This concept is one that embraces policy-driven strategies to ensure healthy eating and active living options in the Port Towns through the use of effective land use and other environmental strategies. The policy was developed, introduced to the State General Assembly, and seen through to passage by the presenter, a former Maryland state senator. The presenter was also the former mayor of one of the Port Towns and is now facilitating the community action planning that will result in evidence-based strategies for healthy eating and active living in the Port Towns. Four funders are pooling resources to support implementation of the evidence-based strategies which will be selected by the community.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss processes for organizing multiple stakeholder groups to advocate for, develop, and monitor systems level policies to reduce or eliminate health disparities such as obesity 2. Identify two strategies that have been successful in utilizing community members to identify or advance evidenced-based planning and strategies 3. Describe two challenges to community-led health planning and ways to over come them

Keywords: Public Health Policy, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the author of the legislation for the Wellness Opportunity Zone, former mayor of one of the towns in the partnership, and former state senator; currently facilitating the community action planning to select evidence-based strategies to reduce health disparities in the Port Towns.
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.