In 2017, the Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama continued to work across the region to improve the health of residents and communities through county-specific collaborative efforts such as those of the Jefferson County Health Action Partnership (JCHAP). Formed 10 years ago, JCHAP partners continue to work together on a multitude of collaborative projects in five strategic issue areas: Advancing Health Equity; Improving the Built Environment; Optimizing Healthcare Access; Promoting Healthy Lifestyles; and Improving Mental Health. We would like to acknowledge the tremendous work that was accomplished in the past 12 months by dozens of participating organizations, and highlight some exciting projects that will begin in the New Year. Below are just a few highlights, with each item representing a collaborative effort involving multiple partners.
The Advancing Health Equity priority group, led by the Jefferson County Collaborative for Health Equity, provided information and education throughout the community with a one-hour introductory presentation that includes some local and national statistics, a brief video, a website (healthequityal.org) and Guiding Principles that were incorporated into the partnership’s structure. The group also launched a two-day Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Training, and will expand the availability of the training in 2018 to equip more people with the skills and resources necessary to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to live a healthy life.
The Built Environment, Transportation and Safety priority group, led by the United Way of Central Alabama, launched the Complete Streets Birmingham campaign in the spring of 2017 and hosted multiple events to build support and awareness for the need to design streets for all users of all ages and abilities. The collaborative effort includes dozens of organizations working with City of Birmingham leaders to pass a Complete Streets policy in 2018 that will ensure all street projects advance mobility options for every resident, regardless their mode of transportation. Infrastructure improvements would include features such as sidewalks, curb ramps, wide crosswalks, bike lanes and bus lanes. The group will continue working in 2018 to pass a Complete Streets policy and begin implementation to ensure city streets provide safe, convenient transportation options for everyone.
The Optimizing Healthcare Access priority group, led by the Jefferson County Department of Health, began a geographically focused pilot project that engages many different partners to improve hypertension rates within a specific ZIP code. The group is working with local churches to launch medication-management clinics, as well as utilize community health workers to link residents to resources that will enable them to lower their blood pressure. In 2018, the group plans to continue expanding the project, while also launching a collaborative nurse practitioner post-graduate training program, convening partners to address infant mortality and developing strategies for using data to improve collaboration among public health organizations.
The Promoting Healthy Lifestyles priority group, led by the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama and the YMCA of Greater Birmingham, helped expand the local Summer Feeding Program to an additional nine sites across three counties. During the summer of 2017, 1,132 children were served more than 57,000 free lunches, breakfasts and snacks, including locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The group plans to expand the number of sites for the Summer Feeding Program in 2018, while also launching an After-School Snack and Supper program to provide year-round access to healthy foods for kids across the region.
The Improving Mental Health priority group, led by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, worked with local school districts and mental health providers to develop strategies for expanding and enhancing school-based mental health services. Through assistance from the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools and in-depth conversations with local educators, the group developed a collaborative plan that focuses on the following: utilizing screening tools to identify student needs and target services more effectively; expanding mental health services to address critical needs; and providing mental health training for teachers and school staff to improve their understanding of mental health issues. The group plans to launch elements of the plan in multiple school districts in 2018.
Improving the health of residents across the Bold Goals service area involves many different organizations and individuals working together as we strive to meet our Bold Goal for Health: that all Central Alabama counties rank among the top 10 healthiest counties in Alabama by 2025.
To learn more about the Jefferson County Health Action Partnership, or to get involved in the Bold Goals work, please contact Ryan Parker at 205-458-2063 or email us at HealthActionPartnership@uwca.org.