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Public Education and Engagement

Community education and engagement with residents as well as key stakeholders and partners are critical for building a local coalition and sharing knowledge, skills, and perspective across the entire collaborative. The CEHD has used several approaches to public education and engagement, including convening a day-long local workshop on how disaster planning and recovery can shape a community’s health; hosting short workshops for Galveston County residents on creating healthy neighborhoods and improving environmental health; providing policy and community briefs on issues under public discussion related to improving health and reducing health disparities; and convening focus groups to elicit residents’ priorities for Galveston’s future.


COMMUNITY WORKSHOP FOR DISASTER PLANNING HURRICANE RECOVERY SCENARIOS

In collaboration with the Institute for Alternative Futures, the CEHD hosted the Galveston Community Workshop for Disaster Planning Hurricane Recovery Scenarios on June 25, 2010. The workshop brought together 86 Galveston area officials and community leaders to discuss how Galveston might strengthen resiliency for future disasters. This workshop highlighted the importance of strengthening community health as a means to improved resiliency, and also the importance of using disaster planning to consider likely community recovery needs, including for long term recovery. This workshop was instrumental in quickly raising awareness of the intersection of disaster planning and health, and also how addressing community health can strengthen and accelerate the recovery process. View the workbook that takes participants through the discussions for the day.

HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOODS AND ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS WORKSHOPS

Between September 2009 and September 2011, the CEHD provided community education in Galveston to vulnerable families to build public understanding of how social determinants influence health, and to build a more knowledgeable and active local resident population. The CEHD undertook dozens of community workshops related to protection from environmental toxins as well as creating healthier neighborhoods. Developed and implemented in partnership with the NIEHS COEC, t.e.j.a.s., St. Vincent’s House, The Jesse Tree, the Galveston Housing Authority, and many other local partners, the workshops used GIS maps developed by the CEHD as well as other data sources to raise awareness of local issues involving social determinants of health, especially within the built environment. The workshops were structured to enhance reflection on citizens’ own critical priorities for rebuilding their neighborhoods. To date, workshops have been delivered to over 2200 Galveston residents and their families. View the "Creating Healthy Neighborhoods in Galveston" workshop powerpoint presentation.

ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS

The Environmental Toxins Workshops were led by the NIEHS COEC. Their goal was to increase community protection and safety education regarding the numerous health risks posed by environmental toxins released by the storm, as well as provide education to prevent exposure to lead poisoning due to the storm and the historical burden in the community prior to the storm, mainly due to pre-1978 paint on houses. The objectives of the workshops were to: 1) increase general environmental health and safety literacy, 2) provide a hazards assessment framework within which citizens can realistically appraise risk to self and family, and 3) disseminate information on precautionary measures to minimize exposure and recognize signs and symptoms of exposure related health effects.

POLICY AND COMMUNITY BRIEFS

Supporting an informed public dialogue process regarding recovery or other decisions that affect community health sometimes requires a platform that supports quick-response to issues. To that end, the CEHD has supported the development of policy briefs that summarize the research evidence on issues such as raising awareness of what food deserts are and how they might be addressed, the impact of state budget cuts on local children’s health, evidence on how different strategies for building public housing affect health, the relationship between educational achievement and health, and results of a health impact assessment of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Additionally, we have produced “community briefs” that provide community perspectives on policy relevant issues, including youth perspectives on priorities for addressing social determinants of health as well as results of a visioning process engaged with local low-income residents, described below. These briefs are distributed electronically and in hard-copy form to local stakeholders.

ENVISIONING GALVESTON

At the request of the Galveston City Council and the City’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, the CEHD, in partnership with the IMH and community partners such as St. Vincent’s House and The Jesse Tree conducted a visioning process and collected perspectives on the City of Galveston’s Draft Comprehensive Plan from 70 low- and low-middle income residents. Participants were comprised of and residents and employees of Gulf Breeze, Landry’s, UTMB Health, Sandpiper Cove, Moody Methodist Church, and Galveston Housing By comparing the visions, goals, and priority actions of the Draft Plan with those of focus group participants, several new priorities emerged, and many existing priorities were reinforced. Click here to view the document.

 

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