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Thursday October 19th 2017

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It Is Summer and Time To Be OUT in the Backyard!

By Bernice Arias, a member of the Backyard Initiative OIBY Community Health Action Team

The OUT in the Backyard (OIBY), a Community Health Action Team or CHAT of the Backyard Initiative, continues to work toward improving the lives of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) population living in the Backyard by connecting people to each other and to resources. We also work on reducing the gap between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people. We help to grow healthy queer communities by identifying LGBTQ ally providers, appropriate resources, and improving community relationships. The activities of the OIBY CHAT closely align with the Backyard Initiative’s four health priorities: Social Connection, Social Cohesion, Health Education and Health Empowerment. (see shaded box.)

This past year we were able to sponsor several activities that included:

Community dinners where members of the community shared their “stories”. Story sharing over a meal helps build community and acceptance.

Three herbal classes centered around the seasons in an effort to learn how we can use local plants for healing and maintenance.

Free exercise classes (Yoga, Pilates, Zumba) six days a week and cultural dance classes (Bollywood) once a month. Each class is designed so that people at all levels of fitness and experience can benefit from them.

Free self-defense classes in an effort to provide skills of protection for people living in the Backyard.

Participating in TwinCities Pride Festival Parade.

Free CPR training to provide skills that will help others in the event of an emergency.

These activities don’t illustrate the impact they have on our community, but participation numbers say a lot. In 2016 we had over 16,000 participants attend the classes and other activities we’ve offered. We work to bring more opportunities for a healthier Backyard!

CHAT Members include: Milin Dutta, Marta Knutson, Janet Dahlem and Bernice Arias. Contact the BYI OUT in the Backyard CHAT by email- outinthebackyard@gmail.com or facebook.com/outinthebackyard.

Activities of the Backyard Initiative are organized around these priorities:

SOCIAL COHESION: The sense of community and belonging that people have. People feel they live in a place where people trust and respect each other and have a sense of responsibility to take care of each other.

SOCIAL SUPPORT: The support that a person receives from and gives to the people around them, including emotional and spiritual support, help with daily needs and crises, and the sharing of advice, information, and feedback.

HEALTH EDUCATION: The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic information and services needed to make appropriate decisions regarding their health. This includes information about what is essential to health (the importance of the family, community, spirituality, the environment, culture, food, sleep, and movement) as well as the medical information needed to address a specific health condition.

HEALTH EMPOWERMENT: People take responsibility for their health; they are active participants in their self-care, and have the knowledge, skill and confidence to manage their health and health care and collaborate with health practitioners

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