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Backyard Initiative – May 2018

How does the work of the BACKYARD INITIATIVE align with the overall health status?

CULTURAL WELLNESS CENTER, MARCH 2011

The Backyard Initiative (BYI) is a 10-year partnership between community residents in South Minneapolis and Allina Health. The Cultural Wellness Center, as the lead agency, assists in facilitating the partnership and the community engagement process. This community organization has a long history developing social enterprises by engaging community residents to improve health through self-study, surfacing and producing knowledge, cross-cultural knowledge exchange and relationship building.

The Cultural Wellness Center’s Theory of Sickness was birthed of out their years of research showing that social conditions-including isolation and a lack of social support-have a profound impact on our health. Yet, as portrayed in the graph (in orange), 88 percent of our health care dollars (in 2011) was spent on health care access and not on the factors most influencing our health.

By partnering the expertise and resources of the Cultural Wellness Center with health care institutions and the wisdom and expertise of residents, The Backyard Initiative was established upon a proven and solid infrastructure. It has provided a host of activities that move beyond medical care to improve health. Over the last 10 years, the Backyard’s essential work has been to strengthen the capacity of residents to draw on their own knowledge, skills, and cultural values toward establishing a system of wellness. In doing so, the Backyard Initiative is addressing the largest factors that influence our health status, lifestyle and behavior. (See the green portion of the graph above).

This remarkable partnership began in 2008 with a commitment between the partners to sustain this unique initiative for 10 years, funded by the financial contributions of Allina put alongside of the cultural and social capital of the residents. Now it is time for the work of Backyard Initiative to become self-sustaining. This is not about “funding ending” or the partnership disbanding. Instead, the resident leaders involved in the Backyard Initiative need to fully embrace their success in developing strategies that effectively address the community’s health status. This success moves beyond remaining just an “initiative” and one that needs to consistently seek funding to exist and do its good work. The new vision being currently developed transforms the Backyard into the Community Caregiving Health Cooperative. Active planning and training work is underway in 2018 to accomplish this transition to fully occur in 2019. The Community Caregiving Health Cooperative will become a direct service provider in addressing lifestyle and behavior, the major factors influencing the health status of members of our community.

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