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Update on the Backyard Initiative An Integral Community Care System

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center and Lovel Trahan, AmeriCorps VISTA, Allina Health Systems On September 23, the Circle of Healing CHAT of the Backyard Initiative hosted a community forum entitled “An Integral Community Care System: Responding to the Health and Wellness Needs of Community” to present a framework for developing a community care system that will combine community resources and knowledge with conventional, professional resources. The Backyard Initiative (BYI) is a partnership between Allina and community residents to improve the health of the community. Residents of Central, Corcoran, East Phillips, Midtown Phillips, Phillips West, Powderhorn Park, and Ventura Village have formed Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs) to work together on health-improvement projects they have designed. The Circle of Healing CHAT is working to blend traditional community knowledge of health and healing with institutional Western medicine. At the September forum, Elder Atum of the Cultural Wellness Center led the group through a facilitated discussion that explored how a community model of providing health care could achieve the lasting results necessary to improve quality of life. Some of the themes included connecting with a patient”'s story, identifying community partners for implementing a holistic model of patient care, and sharing knowledge across disciplines. (more…)

“Talking in the Backyard” Gardening Grows More than Food

“Talking in the Backyard” Gardening Grows More than Food

by Ariele Strachan, Cultural Wellness Center The Backyard Initiative (BYI) now has 13 Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs) implementing health strategies developed by members who are local residents. The Growing the Backyard CHAT was given support by the BYI Community Commission on Health for their Family Garden Project in April of this year and have been working with families on gardening since late May. The Family Garden Project has connected with eight families in the Phillips, Powderhorn, Central, and Corcoran neighborhoods (the Backyard area) and has helped each of them to install a 4x4 foot raised bed garden. The Family Garden Project works with whole families ”” parents, children of all ages, grandparents and other members of the family ”” to make gardening a natural part of everyone”'s day where different gardening activities are less chores and are more activities to bring the family and the community closer together. (more…)

Somali Women”'s Proposal Approved by Commission on Health

Somali Women”'s Proposal Approved by Commission on Health

  By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center The Backyard Initiative”'s Community Commission on Health approved a proposal of the Somali Women”'s Health Support CHAT (Citizen Health Action Team) on June 2, 2011 to promote communication, understanding, and support among women of the Somali community who have children in the justice system. Their project will educate Somali families about how the justice system works, help to connect women together who have children in the system in order to reduce isolation and social stigma, and help to prevent other children in the community from entering the justice system. The Somali women who presented at the Commission meeting spoke of the difficulty of supporting their children throughout the trial process and incarceration. They also spoke of how their cultural systems of authority, personal accountability, and discipline have been undermined and displaced in the move to the U.S. Understanding the justice system is a crucial first step to rebuilding those systems of authority and supporting their youth. The women plan to create a buddy system where each woman will be linked with another woman when they visit their children in prison and will help each other with transportation. This will create a support system for the women who are now feeling isolated and feel that the legal system is inaccessible and foreign. (more…)

Focus on Mental Health in the Backyard

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center Community residents participating in the Backyard Initiative have identified “mental health” as one focus for their work to improve the health of all residents. At their past few monthly meetings, members of the Community Commission on Health and Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs) of the Backyard Initiative (BYI) have been discussing which health condition all the CHATs would work on together. Community members have named many different aspects of mental health, such as stress, depression, and chemical dependency as having a significant impact on overall health. In the community health assessment conducted in 2009, the top health conditions that residents reported experiencing in the last five years were stress (51%), depression (21%), and high blood pressure (21%). The BYI is a partnership between Allina Health Systems and the community surrounding Allina headquarters (the four neighborhoods of Phillips, Central, Powderhorn Park, and Corcoran) to develop ways to improve the health of the community. Resident-run CHATs are now implementing their health strategies and are accountable to the Community”'s Commission on Health, a group of primarily community residents who are also members of a CHAT. (more…)

Update on the Backyard Initiative Rebirthing Community: A new project gets approved by the Commission on Health

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center The Commission on Health approved the project of another Citizen Health Action Team (CHAT) of the Backyard Initiative. On February 3, 2011 the Rebirthing Community CHAT received the go-ahead to implement their project which intends to create “Communities of Light.” 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 with the goal of improving the health of the community. The core work of the Backyard Initiative is done within teams of community residents (CHATs) which develop and implement their members”' ideas. Each CHAT appoints two members to sit on the Commission. Rebirthing Community CHAT ”“ Creating Communities of Light The goal of the Rebirthing Community CHAT is to build and strengthen the relationships, the knowledge, and the capacity for community residents to create their own conditions for health through intergenerational dialogue and working together on a solar energy project. They plan to light up the yards and residences in the Backyard with solar-powered lanterns. (more…)

Health providers and community development organizations invited to work with Back Yard community

Health providers and community development organizations invited to work with Back Yard community

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center Looking back over the activities and accomplishments of 2010, the partners of the Backyard Initiative have a lot to celebrate. The residents of the Backyard (Phillips, Powderhorn Park, Central, and Corcoran) and Allina Hospitals and Clinics are creating a new kind of partnership to improve the health of the community. On December 10, the Cultural Wellness Center and Allina hosted a breakfast for CHAT members and other guests to learn about the Backyard Initiative and meet Dr. David Kindig, Emeritus Professor of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine. Dr. Kendig shared Hennepin County”'s scores from the County Health Rankings which ranks the overall health of every county in the U.S. (available on www.countyhealthrankings.org). The report, released by the University of Wisconsin”'s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is the first of its kind to measure the state of health of a county based on health measures and other key factors that affect health, such as smoking, obesity, binge drinking, access to primary care providers, rates of high school graduation, rates of violent crime, air pollution levels, liquor store density, unemployment rates and number of children living in poverty. A list of such measures, chosen by community residents, could be a tool to help the Backyard residents assess the health of the Backyard community. Marcus Thygeson, MD, president of the Center for Healthcare Innovation at Allina Hospitals & Clinics (the Backyard Initiative is an initiative of this Center) spoke about the need for a “new frontier” of corporate and community partnership. This partnership is not the traditional “we will help you” model, but listens to the community”'s voice, ideas, and self-interests. It”'s not about Allina being the experts or knowing best ”“ it”'s about honoring [...]

December Backyard Initiative

December Backyard Initiative

Click for a full size PDF of the Backyard Initiative page with info on all of the participants.

Partnership in developing ways to improve health in the community

Partnership in developing ways to improve health in the community

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center The Backyard Initiative (BYI) is a partnership between Allina and the community surrounding Allina headquarters (on Chicago and Lake) to develop ways to improve the health of the community. The Cultural Wellness Center engages community residents in Community Health action Teams (CHATs) to generate ideas and strategies that are implemented by residents that will have an impact on personal health and the health of the community. (more…)

Update on the Backyard Initiative “Tell Me a Story” and Diabetes Projects Receive Support

Update on the Backyard Initiative “Tell Me a Story” and Diabetes Projects Receive Support

by Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center In August, the Commission on Health, a citizen group of people who live in the Phillips community or in the Powderhorn Park, Central, or Corcoran neighborhoods, gave its support to two more projects developed by Citizen Health Action Teams of the Backyard Initiative. The Backyard Initiative is a partnership between Allina and the community surrounding Allina headquarters to develop ways to improve the health of the community. Communications/ “Tell Me a Story” CHAT One of the goals of the BYI Initiative is to build the capacity and skills of residents in any ways that will contribute to their overall health. At the CHAT meetings, people often talk about how giving people opportunities to express themselves is a crucial component of health; it is one of the statements in the BYI definition of health.  The “Purpose Statement” for the Communication CHAT is: “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.” (more…)

The Power of Story in the Backyard

The Power of Story in the Backyard

by Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center Throughout the process of bringing together residents to work together to improve health in the Backyard area, we are constantly reminded of the importance of story. When the Cultural Wellness Center first convened residents to hear about plans for the Backyard Initiative, residents told many stories ”“ stories about the history of the community, about residents”' relationships with Allina and other organizations, about people”'s hardships as well as hopes. “I see a lot. I see street level negative activity. I see garbage everywhere. I see people struggling. I see people on street corners, standing off the freeway. I see prostitutes. I see people going to work. I see people like Carol and Shirley and Miss Phoebe, people with conviction.” “I see more diverse businesses, more activity up and down Lake Street coming back. I own a business. There are so many smaller, family owned businesses, which is great because they tend to grow and develop the community. I”'ve also seen a lot of manufacturing leave the area, which needs to come back.” (more…)

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