I have been working with the be well initiative of the Stap[leton Foundation. We are using the principles of ABCD to connect to the community. They have started a program called Block Captains. These are health and wellness leaders from the community who are utilized to inform their communities around the health and wellness of their community.
We go out in the community and talk to people at community functions and find the leaders and people who are interested in health and wellness. We then invite them to an orientation where they can learn more about the program. If they are interested we host a class. The program is 4 weeks and the community members meet two times per week for two hours. We utilize videos, data, expert speakers, etc. to help inform, educate and give the community a good set of information regarding the topic areas. The areas we cover range from transportation, economics, health disparities such as diabetes, heart health, etc.
The other ways we connect is we have small groups working on service projects that the community wants to address. For instance we worked on a part of the city of Aurora where there is a food desert. The community had no grocer close that had fresh fruits and vegetables. People had to travel miles to get to the nearest grocer that offered these items. We were able to assist the community group with the city government, a local small grocer and pitched the idea. With help with some incentives from the city with some funds for the grocer and the community input of what items they would like to see offered the store became a reality. It took a few years to make happen. The community now has a place close that offers the fresh fruit and vegetables. Plus, we have a quarterly coalition meeting of all the different small groups to convene and listen to what service projects they are working on in their communities. So that the agenda and the information comes from the community and its efforts to make the changes they want to see.
We also offer this program for youth so we work in schools to active this group of community leaders to help them live a more healthy lifestyle. It is structured around the same format but have the parents participate with the youth. We work in schools and youth ages 10-18 yrs of age. Some of their service projects have been to work with the school to offer a healthy alternative for lunch. they worked with the school, community, teachers, and parents to make the change. They were able to get a salad bar in the schools so those youth who wanted this alternative could choose this choice.
So all these connections in the community we use the ABCD format to connect. We offer the community monthly meeting so they can meet and talk with other members from other neighborhoods. WE also, offer some monetary incentives for them to come to the meeting. So people can get $25-$50 per meeting per month depending on their commitment to the Block Captain program. We do this to help the community because we value their time and commitment. We also host health and wellness fairs throughout the year and we ask our Block Captains to assist us and to allow them to get exposure in their communities as the leaders.
We also, have be well centers at some of the recreation centers where we offer free health screening, BP checks, heart Health checks, free fitness classes and nutrition cooking classes for them to participate in. These classes can be taken by anyone in the community and they do not have to be a Block Captain.
At the beginning of the year in January we have a celebration to honor and celebrate the Block Captains both adults and youth. We have guest speakers, entertainment and we give all our Block Captains recognition for their work over the year.
My thoughts on ABCD is that it has to be at the core of any process and to any organization who wants to truly engage the community authentically. I feel that this works when organizations learn and listen to the community. In this way the organization gets the ability to create capacity for its programs and the community benefits by getting issues they need get attention. In this way it is a win- win for everyone. When organizations work collaboratively and truly utilize the resources of the community true change happens that is mutually beneficial for all involved.