Public Health experts from statewide and local organizations convene over improving health equity in San Diego

Written by Karemi Alvarez, MPH

San Diego Nutrition And Physical Activity Collaborative under the Network for a Healthy California and UC San Diego–Center for Community Health held a Community Engagement for Health Equity Forum in September 2012. The Forum convened 75 participants including County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency; University of California, San Diego; community-based organizations; and direct health service providers, among other stakeholders.

Attending organizations gained valuable knowledge and acquired tools to practice community-based participatory research (CBPR) in partnership with residents from underserved communities. The goal of the CBPR partnerships is to reduce communities’ risk of chronic diseases and to help eliminate health disparities.

The keynote speaker was world-renowned expert on CBPR, Meredith Minkler, Dr.P.H. – Director of Health and Social Behavior at the University of California, Berkeley-School of Public Health. The four panelists included Dana Richardson, Senior Director of Advocacy and Community Health for Community Health Improvement Partners; William Oswald, Ph.D., Community Development Consultant; Miriam Adam, 14-year-old youth leader with City Heights Hope Project; and Sophonya Simpson, Coordinator for the California Endowment’s President’s Youth Council.

The Forum emphasized:

  • Sharing strategies for collaborating with community residents as equitable partners in the research process;
  • Strategies for promoting youth voice and participation in youth-adult partnerships; and
  • Building cultural humility to facilitate community-led efforts

Attendees had the opportunity to engage in roundtable discussions with each presenter to learn from best practices in effective community engagement. The Forum received enthusiastic feedback emphasizing how much participating organizations learned from the presenters. Practicing cultural humility was highlighted as one of attendees’ most valuable “take-aways.” Others commented that the most valuable thing they learned was to “talk less, listen more, and see community members as equal partners when you want to make changes in the community,” and to “let the community you help lead and guide your efforts.”

San Diego NAPAC – Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative is a coalition of over 100 agencies and 300 individuals actively participating in health improvement throughout the San Diego community. San Diego NAPAC promotes healthy eating and active living as well as access to healthy food and environments conducive to physical activity for the CalFresh-eligible population.
For more information and for the resources and tools mentioned above, contact Karemi Alvarez at karemi@ucsd.edu

Additional resources on community-based participatory research: