Abstract: One Square Mile: Engaging Local Residents in Innovative Research to Improve Community and Family Health (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

One Square Mile: Engaging Local Residents in Innovative Research to Improve Community and Family Health

Saturday, January 16, 2016: 8:00 AM
Meeting Room Level-Meeting Room 16 (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
* noted as presenting author
Shannah Tharp-Gilliam, PhD, Interim President & CEO, Homewood Children's Village, Pittsburgh, PA
Bryan Stephany, MA, Manager of Evaluation & Research, Homewood Children's Village, Pittsburgh, PA
Marcus Poindexter, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Walter Lewis, MS, Manager, Bridge to College Program, Homewood Children's Village, Pittsburgh, PA
Anita Zuberi, PhD, Research Associate, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Stephanie Boddie, PhD, Research Associate, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Jaime Booth, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
John Wallace, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Background/Purpose: The Healthy Living, Healthy Learning, Healthy Lives (HL3) project is a community based participatory research project that has fostered a collaborative partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and the Homewood Children’s Village (HCV), a place-based, child-centered community change initiative within the community of Homewood, a one square mile community located on the east end of the City of Pittsburgh. The asthma research conducted through the HL3 partnership has allowed the HCV to expand its work in the community through the development of a Community Advisory Board, interviews with key stakeholders within the community, and the expansion of their afterschool program to include a CBPR science club. The HL3 partnership has also allowed for the opportunity to better understand the context in which children live, learn, and play in Homewood, thus strengthening the impact that HCV can have toward the development of a community in which every child succeeds. The HL3 project has also enabled the community-university partnership to utilize of one of Homewood’s untapped resources, the power of young-people’s natural curiosity and creativity, to mobilize an effort to create positive community change in healthy living and well-being, by enabling youth to learn to be part of the solution to the challenges facing their community, which we see as a vital yet missing component to fully understanding the community health context of Homewood.

Methods: Interviews with key informants from the community, insights from a Community Advisory Board, and a high school youth leadership framework with a cadre of Homewood teenagers were used to open up new perspectives on the key health issues in the community.

Results: Utilizing resources in the community has allowed us to assess the health concerns related to asthma generated from community knowledge and begin work toward a strategic agenda for community health improvement. Additionally, the youth-led CBPR program has orientated six young researchers to empirical thinking and CBPR data collection skills, with a specific focus on participatory photomapping (PPM), and has increased the health literacy of the youth researchers, providing them with valuable science and research skills, and has also opened them up to career possibilities within the health sciences. The new data generated from the community-level outreach will allow the project team to compile, analyze, and synthesize with data from other sources, and use the collective findings to support the development of strategies at the individual and neighborhood level.

Conclusions and Implications: This project is innovative in that it has allowed us to incorporate the key informant interviews, Community Advisory Board insights, and qualitative data from youth-led CBPR to paint a fuller picture of the strengths and challenges relating to community health in Homewood. Through this CBPR approach, we are working to not only better understand the community-level health context in Homewood, but also to excite local youth in science and community activity to pursue higher education and ultimately to improve community and family health.