WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Shari Barkin, M.D., a pediatrician at Brenner Children’s Hospital, has been awarded a grant from the Duke Endowment to develop the Collaborative to Strengthen Families and Neighborhoods. This partnership with Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the YWCA will be housed in the new Southeast Gateway YWCA currently under construction and slated to open in 18 months.
The collaborative is a unique community-academic alliance that will bring together community agencies to create and test new programs to combat childhood obesity. The collaborative will provide health screenings such as measuring a child’s body mass index and blood pressure at the YMCA, linking services to the child’s primary provider.
“We want to use this space as a place where community groups meet to plan good ideas, implement them and see whether they work,” said Barkin, the executive director of the collaborative. “The first issue we are tackling is childhood obesity. We hope to bring our successful programs to policymakers to make policy changes so effective programs will be sustained.”
A kitchen will also be part of the collaborative space. Families will learn how to cook and eat together. Currently the collaborative is seeking potential community partners such as the YWCA’s Program for Active Children Eating Smarter (PACES) and the Forsyth County Department of Health.
A scientific advisory board will be appointed to assess all ideas submitted to the collaborative to determine the quality and potential health impact. In addition, a parent advisory panel will be formed to ensure that families’ needs are being addressed and that the ideas submitted are ones that parents are interested in, Barkin said.
Workers broke ground on the new 90,000 square-foot YMCA last fall. The collaborative will be housed on the second floor in a 1,400 square foot space located across the hall from the nursery and the family fitness rooms.
The Duke Endowment funded the $250,000 grant to build the facility.
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Wake Forest University Health Sciences and Brenner Children’s Hospital. The system comprises 1,187 acute care, rehabilitation, psychiatry and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report. Brenner Children’s was named one of the top children’s hospitals in the nation by Child magazine.