NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Friday November 17th 2017

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Backyard Initiative Update

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center

Citizen Health Action Teams

14 Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs) have been working just a few months, some for a year, and some over a year. 140 BYI residents have participated in a CHAT.

The BY is one square mile area around the Midtown Exchange. Residents of those seven neighborhoods have been supported by the Cultural Wellness Center to develop and implement their ideas since December, 2008. Allina Health (recently changed from Allina Hospitals and Clinics) has contributed funds for these projects, with additional support from Twin Cities LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation).

CHAT projects demonstrate the creativity, resourcefulness, energy, and commitment of community residents.  Here is a quick, alphabetical summary of the work of seven CHATs;  7 more next month.

1. Anchor Families CHAT:  established two “Anchor Families,” one in Central Neighborhood and one in Powderhorn Park Neighborhood,

  • who take responsibility for supporting and organizing people on their block.
  • visited one-on-one with neighbors,
  • organized children’s activities,
  • supported people who have experienced a major tragedy,
  • referred people to community resources,
  • created a fellowship program for the teens of CHAT members,
  • and helped neighbors to get to know each other.

Neighbors have increased involvement on their block and are volunteering at neighborhood events. Some have reported having more understanding of different cultures and feeling a greater sense of safety.

2. A Partnership of Diabetics (A-POD) CHAT:

providing sustainable, community-based support, strategies, planning and tools to assist members of the community in diabetes self-management.

  • strategies to successful self-management:
  • include developing healthy eating plans
  • learning to shop for healthy foods,
  • becoming physically active
  • participating in exercise opportunities,
  • monitoring daily blood glucose levels and blood pressure,
  • creating medication regimes and
  • tracking vital blood test readings,
  • adopting risk reduction strategies,
  • applying coping skills,
  • involving friends and family in self-management strategies,
  • and creating a buddy system for support.

A-POD now has a Diabetes Self-Management Center at the Phillips Community Center with bi-monthly meet-ups for group support and hosted two “POD Tensives” – all-day workshops. They have partnered with the Somali community (Guri Nabad CHAT) to organize a diabetes education workshop for Somali women, working to establish regular meet ups in the Somali language. Each person who has regularly attended A-POD Meet-ups has documented improvements in their reportable numbers that indicate more effective self-management.

3. Assessment and Evaluation CHAT: Does assessment, evaluation, and research needs of the Commission with two primary roles:

1) To ensure that the CHAT projects and other BYI activities are consistent with the vision and mission, and

2) To oversee the research process of the Backyard Initiative; assessment, evaluation and any work that is done to create new knowledge.

Directed the 2009 Listening Circles and Walk-around Survey and is reviewing the year-end CHAT reports with recommendations to the CHATs and the BYI Commission.

4. Circle of Healing CHAT: Approved late 2011.  Is a collaborative of BY practitioners including but not limited to complementary healers, elders, representatives from different cultural traditions, conventional health professionals and community care givers who come together as practitioners interested in creating a more formalized network of people around BY residents to provide better information and support for healing and reflection about the message of dis-ease.” Now building their network and have hired a coordinator, Farhio Khalif; Contact through the Cultural Wellness Center.

5. Communications/Tell Me A Story CHAT: “Working to lessen or eliminate the divide between people who have information and those who don’t so that everyone has the opportunity to be engaged in a healthy community.” Approved by the Commission in Feb. 2012 to support all the CHATs to communicate with each other and with the wider BYI community, so that each CHAT can tell its stories in both words and pictures. Will also design and implement a BYI Youth Public Art Pilot Project to compile a sampling of the public art within the BYI area “as examples of the beauty and positive features within the BYI community.”

6. Dakota Language Revitalization CHAT: Received funding to keep moving ahead at the Feb. Commission meeting.  “The Dakota Language Revitalization (DLR) CHAT will continue to fulfill its commitment to the well being of the Dakota peoples through spiritual, cultural, language and educational ways of life that are inherit to the Dakota nation…Reclaiming the Dakota language is a cornerstone for Native American Dakotas to reconnect to culture, educational achievement and positive self image, which in and of itself, is an important indicator of academic, economic, and lifetime success for self, family and community.” Primary focus is language revitalization, but the CHAT will also organize rituals, ceremonies, and classes in making drums, moccasins, and medicine bags.

7.  “Did You Know” CHAT: Recognized that “people may live right next to each other but not know each other.  If they don’t know each other, they don’t take care of each other, share information and help each other out.”

  • Supports current block club leaders and
  • encourages new leaders reflecting cultural and ethnic diversity of the neighborhood. brought together several organizations that support block clubs to work together more efficiently.
  • hosted three block club leader meetings where leaders shared ideas and supported each other.

Result: the Phillips Community had the highest National Night Out participation ever: 52 registered block parties, up from 16 2010. Also, 11 “Spring Reunion” events occurred with 15 blocks participating. Block club events helped spread information that supports a healthy block including information from the police on safety and information from Community University Health Care Center on family planning, health services and domestic violence. The CHAT also helped organize Phillips Neighborhood Clean Sweep in 2010 and 2011.

CHAT Updates in April The Alley: Growing the Backyard, Guri Nabad,  Latino Environmental Health, Out in the Backyard, Project S.E.L.F., Rebirthing Communities/Communities of Light, and Somali Women’s Health.

All BY residents are welcome at CHAT meetings & All-CHAT meetings on each 3rd Thursday. Info: Cultural Wellness Center, 621-721-5745.

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