Health navigators

By: Ruben L Medina
Posted in: Stories

I have been working with the Stapleton Foundation in Aurora, Co. I work with their be well health and wellness initiative .We have worked on a project to get community members to become advocates for health and wellness disparities. They have used the ABCD concepts and have come up with a program called Block Captains. Were we train community leaders in the social determinate s of health. The community leaders go through a 3-4 week course were we use videos, data, and professional in the specific topic areas. The leaders are taught such things as built environment, transportation, health disparities, such as Diabetes, Heart health, etc.

The leaders are then trained to be able to now go back to their communities and inform their community on the issues surrounding these disparities. Plus, we offer incentives for these leaders to continue to learn more on a few other ways. We have monthly meetings were they can brain storm with other Block Captains from other communities and neighborhoods to learn what is going on in their community.

The incentive for them to come to the monthly meetings are $25-$50 per meeting so they can learn more and network. We also, have quarterly meetings so they can report out on their service projects that the Block captains and the community work on over the year. We offer a small grant to assist them with some things they may need to accomplish their goal. One project a group worked on was the food desert. They were able to work with the city, a local grocer and were able to get the city to give the grocer some tax benefits and money to open a market in a part of the community that did not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. 

We also have this program for youth. Where we work in schools and with the youth to come up with service projects to help change the things they choose in their schools. Right now one of the projects they are working on is trying to get the water bottle fill up station as a part of their efforts to get more youth drinking water and using water bottles. 

Then annually we have a celebration to give recognition to these community leaders and their efforts. 

My thoughts on ABCD is that it works at all levels and any area in the community. What it takes is for strong leaders in these organizations to understand, educate and have the willingness to let the community lead the narrative for their community. Truly engage the people from the beginning by listening, give them leadership skills, allow them to lead and celebrate their successes. Use the leverage of the organization to give credibility,exposure and connections that the community may not have. So for me ABCD is the core of any change in the  the community. Trust the community and its many gifts and leaders!!!


Ruben L Medina