Originally published in The DASH-NY Newsletter January 2013
By Shara Siegel, with contributions from Jennifer Richey, Communications Director at the Partnership for a Healthier New York, Shaquana P. Divers, Program Manager, H.E.A.R.T., and Amy Jesaitis, Physical Activity and Nutrition Coordinator for the Healthy Heart Program at the New York State Department of Health.
New York is the lucky recipient of three multi-million dollar Community Transformation Grants funded through the Prevention and Public Health Fund that was created by the Affordable Care Act. The CTGprogram promotes wellness and addresses the root cause of diseases. New York communities are using these funds to create innovative partnerships with untraditional partners to improve the health of their communities in the priority areas of tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, and quality services to prevent and control high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has committed $900 million to funding CTGs over the first five years. Approximately $103 million in prevention funding was awarded in 2011 to 61 states and communities, and in 2012, another $70 million went to 40 communities with fewer than 500,000 people. By focusing on where people live, work, learn, and play, the CTG program is expected to improve the health of more than four out of 10 U.S. citizens—about 130 million Americans. The University of Rochester and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene received Implementation Awards for New York in 2011, and the New York State Department of Health/Health Research Inc. received a Small Communities Award in 2012. Learn more about the innovative partnerships underway in Rochester, New York City, and Broome-Cattaraugus and how they are impacting their communities below.
The CTG recipient in Rochester is a coalition led by the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Monroe County Department of Public Health. They were awarded a five-year grant to develop HEART (Health Engagement and Action for Rochester’s Transformation), “a comprehensive initiative to improve the health of Monroe County residents by creating a community environment that supports healthy behaviors, thus preventing chronic disease and reducing health care costs.”
One interesting HEART initiative is a partnership with its local food bank, Foodlink. CTG funding helped to staff and support 10 urban farm stands that distributed over 21,000 pounds of produce in the city of Rochester this past summer. One of the farm stands was at the Rochester Recreation Club for the Deaf, which increased access to healthy foods for the deaf community. HEART also supported the purchase of equipment that will be used to maintain the shelf life of produce during the winter months. In addition, HEART will support Foodlink’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative.
HEART also funded a community-wide Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) Training. Twenty-one residents, police officers, and recreational staff were trained on the principles of crime prevention. These principles are being incorporated into neighborhood improvement plans to address safety concerns that hamper physical activity in our communities.
In 2013, HEART plans to continue its work in active transportation and workplace wellness, and its Virtual Clinician tool that teaches about high cholesterol will be available for clinical settings.
New York City’s CTG established The Partnership for a Healthier New York City. Throughout the first year of the CTG, the Partnership began to formally link community groups through coalitions based in each borough, to ultimately form a citywide partnership. Some of the lead agencies for the work are longtime supporters of healthy communities, but are not necessarily traditional health organizations. For example,Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, best known for its community and economic development work in that area, is the lead partner in Brooklyn. Make the Road New York, a leading advocate for immigrants, is the lead agency in Queens.
During the first year, the lead agencies promoted healthy activities occurring in their communities, worked on op-eds, and conducted relevant trainings. For instance, the Manhattan borough lead, Mt. Sinai, hosted an active design workshop to “Re-envision Our Neighborhoods” and presented to Community Board 7 on active living. This year the Partnership is working to improve access to healthier food and beverage choices, reduce underage and excessive drinking, and decrease exposure to secondhand smoke in homes and public places.
For more information and ways to get involved, please contact the Partnership at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York State Department of Health/Health Research Inc. was recently awarded a grant to address National Prevention Strategy priorities of tobacco-free living, healthy eating and living, and healthy and safe physical environments for children ages 0-18 in eight small communities in Broome, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua Counties. The eight communities, which are defined according to school district boundaries, were selected based on high socioeconomic need and risk, high rates of obesity among school-age children, and capacity to implement grant objectives.
The communities will conduct activities in a variety of sectors that contribute to the overall goals of the CTG program. There are a number of initiatives aimed at increasing physical activity and making healthier food choices available. For example, there will be more childcare centers and day care homes that provide developmentally appropriate physical activity for young children. Awardees will adopt or make improvements to policies and practices encouraging students to walk or bike to school and develop Complete Street strategies. They will also develop regional food procurement initiatives to secure more competitive pricing and improve the nutritional quality of the school lunch program. Buildings, such as schools, organizations, and municipal buildings, will decrease availability of sugary drinks that they sell or serve. Finally, beyond these advances in physical activity and nutrition, all local housing authorities will work on implementing smoke-free policies for their multi-unit properties.
These three examples, in Rochester, New York City, and Broome-Cattaraugus, offer great insight into the community-based chronic disease prevention opportunities offered through the CTG grants and are reflective of the types of developments in health promotion occurring across the country as a result of these grants.