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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Wednesday June 12th 2024

Anyone living in the Backyard area can help their community to improve health

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center

The Backyard Initiative was started two years ago as a community partnership between Allina Hospitals and Clinics and the residents of Phillips, Powderhorn Park, Central, and Corcoran which has the goal of improving the health of the community. Health is defined as 1) a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being; it is not only the absence of infirmity and disease, 2) the state of balance, harmony, and connectedness within and amongst many systems ”“ the body, the family, the community, the environment, and culture; it cannot be seen only in an individual context, and 3) an active state of being; it cannot be achieved by being passive.

This definition of health is not just a state of being ”“ it is a process of becoming, and the residents of the Backyard are using this description of health to become healthier. They are actively working on projects which increase balance, harmony, and connectedness within the community.

The core work of the Backyard Initiative is done within the Citizen Health Action Teams or CHATs. A CHAT is composed of a group of people who work together on a common concern or issue in order to improve the health of the community and build community. Each CHAT meets at least monthly to plan ahead and make decisions, and then members of the CHAT carry out work between meetings. All the CHATs come together at least once a month to update each other on their progress and discuss common problems and strategies. They have agreed upon a list of principles that help CHATs to be inclusive and effective.

Principles of CHATs

CHATs continually engage and organize people to contribute their concerns and ideas, to find common interests, to build relationships.  They grow participation.

CHATs are creative; they surface new ideas, new knowledge.

CHATS make connections and do research to connect with existing resources.

CHATs are action teams ”“ they plan and implement actions which improve health.

CHATs build capacity in the members of the CHAT and in people in the community in the implementation of their project.

CHATs build leadership. In their process, they draw out the talents and skills of CHAT members, and build on their experience and culture.

CHATs build community in the planning process and the implementation of their project. Building community contributes to health; building community is both the process and the product.

Come Join Us

If you live in one of the four neighborhoods of Phillips, or in Powderhorn Park, Corcoran, or Central, you are welcome to come to the community meetings, join an existing CHAT, or develop a CHAT with your neighbors. The CHATs now working on projects are:

Anchor Families CHAT:
To organize people within a few blocks of each other to learn about each other and create and maintain a natural network of activities to ensure a sense of belonging for each household.

A Partnership of Diabetics (A-POD) CHAT:
To provide sustainable, community-based support, strategies, planning and tools to assist members of the community in diabetes self-management.

Assessment and Evaluation CHAT:
To carry out the assessment, evaluation, and research needs of the Commission.

Communications/Tell Me A Story CHAT:
To lessen or eliminate the divide between people who have information and those who don”'t.

Dakota Language House CHAT:
To teach children and families their ancestral Dakota language by immersing them in the language at a group family child care home.

“Did You Know” CHAT:
To share health information and support through the system of block clubs in the Backyard.

Growing Up in the Backyard CHAT:
To organize and support gardeners and urban farmers in the Backyard area to create and sustain a healthy, local food system.

Latino/a Environmental Health Begins At Home:
To teach Latinas how to make healthy products to clean the home, organize ways to implement what they have learned, and support each other to maintain a healthy environment.

Out in the Backyard CHAT:
To connect gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual (GLBT) folks to resources related to health and wellness and supportive of members of the GLBT community through a virtual community center.

Project SELF Immigrants Health CHAT:
To assist youth, elders and families in healthy living and artistic expressions through poetry, open microphone performances, information workshops and community dialogue and bridge the gap between the older and younger community members.

All community residents are welcome to attend Backyard CHAT meetings and events. Call the Cultural Wellness Center at 621-721-5745 for more information


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