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Tuesday August 22nd 2017

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BYI Teams Creating Connections and Resources for Health

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center

In the last two months the BackYard Initiative Update highlighted the work of eleven Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs) that have been working over the past year to improve the health of BYI residents. There are a total of 14 CHATs now meeting in the Backyard community and this update highlights the work of the other seven CHATs.

The Backyard is defined as the approximately one square mile area surrounding Allina’s corporate headquarters. Residents of these seven neighborhoods in south Minneapolis have been supported by the Cultural Wellness Center to develop and implement their ideas for community health improvement since December of 2008. Allina has been contributing the funds for these projects, with additional support from Twin Cities LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation).

Each of the CHATs is growing the community’s capacity to increase residents’ knowledge and skills that help people to take better care of themselves.

12. Project S.E.L.F. CHAT: This team began under the leadership of a young Somali man who had a vision for strengthening the connection between youth and elders in the Somali community by open mic performances, storytelling, and dialogue. The CHAT has hosted an event every month, except during Ramadan, has held two open mic events, two mother-daughter events, several story-telling sessions for young children, and a large community picnic last summer. They are planning an Oral Interview Project to document the stories and wisdom of the elders and the experiences of the youth.

13. Rebirthing Communities/Communities of Light CHAT: This CHAT has been conducting weekly workshops for families in the community to discuss community issues, learn about sustainable energy, and produce lanterns that utilize solar batteries.  In the workshops, facilitators challenge participants to consider the role sustainability and economic self-sufficiency could play in their lives.  Each family makes three solar lanterns, and then participants become members of a community co-op, which sells the lanterns to the community. The CHAT has also developed two solar generator prototypes from scratch that have been placed in the homes of community members and are used to power appliances. In return, these families are charged with selling, teaching and installing more generators.

14. Somali Women’s CHAT: This CHAT began with the vision to promote communication, understanding, and support among women of the Somali community who have children in the judicial system by creating spaces and systems for them to talk to each other, connect to each other, and assist each other. In the process, the team of Somali women found themselves supporting Somali women in many ways, reducing isolation, helping them navigate many systems and connect with resources, and building a support system for families that will help prevent children from getting involved in the judicial system. They have helped families to get memberships to the Science Museum and YMCA, organized weekly family days, and supported Somali women to attend trainings and workshops.

Backyard community residents are welcome to attend Backyard CHAT meetings and events, as well as the All-CHAT meeting on the third Thursday of every month. Call the Cultural Wellness Center at 621-721-5745 for more information.

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