Community Engagement-Outreach Core
|Dr. Melicia Whitt-Glover|
| Core Director|
The goal of the Community Outreach Core within the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity (MACHE) COE was to develop transformative collaborative networks and strategies to bring clinical, community, and translational investigators together with community partners to conduct innovative community-engaged research.
Utilizing traditional approaches, communities are often defined through a "deficit model", needs-based approach focused on problem identification (Morgan & Ziglio, 2007). In recent years, however, an alternative "assets-based model" has emerged that offers a theoretically driven and philosophical approach focused on the "talents, skills, and capacities" of individuals and organizations that are available in communities (McKnight & Kretzmann, 1993; Liburd & Bowie, 2009). The activities of the Community Outreach Core were based on and undergirded by this "assets-based' approach.
Communities can be defined geographically or on the basis of common interests, language, culture, ethnicity, or experience (MacQueen et al, 2001). Our operational definition of communities was broad and included not only neighborhood residents, but also communities based on their common interests in specific health issues, and communities based on profession, such as health care providers and their associated organizations. Two of the most salient reasons for academic researchers to work with communities and community coalitions stand out: 1) communities can engage in collective action, and by working together, can accomplish goals that could not be achieved by individuals working alone (Minkler et al, 2008a; 2008b); and 2) because communities are social networks, they allow community members to gain access to resources and the benefits offered by participation in research (Stahl & Hahn, 2007). Members of this core engage with community partners including: 1) lay community members; 2) faith-based organizations; 3) health care centers; 4) community-based organizations; and 5) community coalitions committed to "translate evidence-based, lifestyle strategies to eliminate health disparities in diabetes prevention and control."
The Community Outreach Core of the MACHE consisted of a diverse group of faculty and staff who have over the past several years successfully engaged the African American, American Indian and Hispanic/Latino communities in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County region and other areas of North Carolina (NC) in addressing minority health and health disparities through active listening and communication, mutual learning, educational opportunities and collaborative research projects.
The Community Outreach Core coordinated efforts across the COE, with MACHE faculty affiliates, and with our community partners to reduce the disparities faced by underserved communities with special emphasis on the epidemic of diabetes.
Our aims were to:
- Build on MACHE's existing community partnerships to establish the Diabetes and Obesity Network for Integrated Community-Based Health Solutions. This Network consists of researchers, health professionals, community-based organizations and community residents dedicated to reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity in African American and Hispanic/Latino communities in Winston Salem/Forsyth County.
- Develop educational, policy, and practice-based strategies for reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity in Winston Salem/Forsyth County.
- Provide members of the Network and their communities with relevant training to conduct research and evaluation studies that address their own priorities, while facilitating collaborative research involving MACHE investigators.
- Engage Network members as active partners in the design and implementation of asset-based diabetes and obesity research studies, while building capacity of Network members and their communities.