Building a Community Health Strategy
The Lerner Center and Engagement: Let's Get Healthy, Together
The Center and the CNY Master of Public Health students hosted forums designed to help you help us set our priorities.
The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion has a clear mission: Improve community health.
But how? Free weights for grandma, perhaps? Brussels sprouts as an after-school snack?
Those ideas are, of course, ridiculous. But there are plenty of other approaches that may appear valid, yet are doomed to fail because they neglect to consider the true wants, needs and priorities of the people they're aimed at helping.
"We firmly believe that step No. 1 is simply to ask, 'how can we help'," Lerner Center Faculty Director Thomas Dennison said. "Our goal is to help people, to support people, in meeting their own health goals. The last thing we want to do is tell you or your organization what to do."
Asking people what they want, and making sense of the answer on both the individual and community levels, is no easy task. That's especially true when your target audience is everyone in Onondaga County.
"Our goal is to reduce the instances of chronic, preventable disease," Program Director Rebecca Bostwick said. "In order to have a real shot at moving that needle, we need to engage everyone, from college students, to suburban professionals, to City of Syracuse residents, families, and teens. We need to understand the health goals of all the citizens in our community, and be mindful of our county's demographic and economic diversity."
Such a mission requires a comprehensive engagement strategy. Part of that strategy has already been launched by Healthy Monday Syracuse, an off-shoot of the national Monday Campaigns, run locally by the Lerner Center.
Healthy Monday Syracuse is profiling community members about their health practices. It's launched Facebook and Twitter pages to bring people interested in health together and to share health tips with the broadest possible audience. And it is partnering with organizations to launch Meatless Monday and other Healthy Monday initiatives countywide.
The Lerner Center has the resources and desire to launch additional initiatives in the county. That's where you come into the picture.
Forums were held in the October and November of 2011, and were facilitated by CNY Master of Public Health students. The results of the forums are finalized and can be found here.
"We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to participate," Bostwick said. "We recognize that effective civic engagement is an ongoing process, not a one off, and we recognize that the most important element is you. No matter who you are, where you live in the county or what your views are on healthy living, we still want to hear from you."
In that spirit, there's no reason to wait. Please feel free to tell us about your health goals and how we might help support them, by either joining Healthy Monday Syracuse on Facebook and Twitter, or emailing Bostwick at firstname.lastname@example.org.