New Haven Residents Contribute Ideas For Health Improvements

Resident feedback was in high demand from six New Haven neighborhoods. The Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), part of Yale School of Public Health, held a Community Forum Sat. May 7th., at Connecticut Center for Art and Technology at Science Park when the 2015 New Haven Health Survey was released.

The fall 2015 survey followed two previous surveys conducted in 2009 and 2012, for the purpose of tracking neighborhood health. CARE randomly selected 1,189 residents from New Haven’s low-income towns of Dixwell, Fair Haven, Hill North, NewHallville, West River/Dwight, and West Rock/West Hills. Local residents were hired and trained to collect the surveys of which included questions about health, diet, smoking habits, exercise and neighborhood safety. A 70% participation rate from all three surveys indicate the willingness of residents wanting improvements.

Deputy Director Alycia Santilli, MSW, of CARE discusses the work of CARE. The presentation served as fuel for residents to submit additional ideas neighborhood improvements.

Deputy Director Alycia Santilli, MSW, of CARE, discusses the work of CARE. The presentation served as fuel for residents to submit additional ideas neighborhood improvements.

CARE took their findings and compared them to DataHaven’s Community Wellbeing Survey in the report. DataHaven conducted phone surveys with nearly 17,000 randomly selected adults throughout Connecticut, including 800 in the City of New Haven, between April and October 2015. The combined results provide a wider perspective of local communities versus statewide feedback from Connecticut residents on their well-being.

Following the presentation of CARE survey, participants were divided into groups according to where they lived and volunteer facilitators recruited by Community Mediation Inc., of Hamden, worked with each community group. Residents were asked for ideas to make their neighborhoods healthier. Everyone was provided with key findings of their neighborhood for reference and to help facilitate consensus. Residents were then asked if they were or weren’t surprised by the findings and what specific issues would they be willing to work on, by making a commitment for improvement.

Dixwell and Newhallville residents give ideas.

(Pictured above: Dixwell and Newhallville residents contributed ideas during forum.)

It’s no secret residents living in underserved areas face challenges such as choosing between paying a bill or buying food. That decision is compounded by the fact that low-income areas lack access to fresh foods. Sometimes food pantries don’t have the healthiest food, but because of dependence on it for sustenance, there isn’t a choice.

Dixwell and Newhallville residents give ideas.

(Pictured above: Dixwell and Newhallville residents contributed ideas during forum.)

Following the breakout sessions, each group reported back to the forum to share findings. Issues raised from the Dixwell/NewHallville group were accountability of municipal leaders and how best to have your voice be heard, personal accountability and how to raise the bar of caring in the neighborhood for better cleanliness conditions, absentee landlords and safer streets: speed limit enforcement and sidewalk repair.

To help neighborhoods address health issues identified through this process, CARE is awarding $1,500 to each of the six participating neighborhoods. CARE seeks project proposals that, “Aim to improve health and that relate in some way to major risks for chronic disease by impacting access to healthy foods and healthy eating and physical activity. Projects may create a framework for a variety of activities, meaning projects do not need to be restricted to a single activity or focus solely on diet and exercise.”

CARE specifies this criteria for Neighborhood Health Projects:

  • The project focus must be related directly or indirectly to nutrition and/or physical activity.
  • There must be demonstration of community support for the program.
  • Ideally, the project should be led by neighborhood residents.
  • The project and its participants must take place in and benefit one of the six neighborhoods where CARE works: Dixwell, Fair Haven, the Hill, Newhallville, Dwight/West River, West Rock/West Hills.
  • The project must have the potential to be sustainable beyond support from CARE.

The grant application deadline is Friday May 27th, no later than 5 pm. Friday June 30th funding decisions will be finalized. To learn more about the grant and apply visit: http://tinyurl.com/jtpe27t.

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