Our vision is that individuals are, and the community is, self-reliant and resilient and have/has balance in body, mind, and spirt. The change we want to see is an engaged and empowered community. We think it will take work in three areas to make that happen: addressing trauma and violence, increasing access to healthy foods, and engaging faith-based communities.
Defining Behavioral Health
During this period Healthier Neighbors (HN) completed what may be the most significant task of the project, defining behavioral health. As written in the last HN Impact Report (Healthier Neighbors Impact Report (May 2016- Sept 2016),“What makes this grant initiative unique from so many others is the reliance on the HN community in the structure of the project”. Group residents were able to experience this building block first hand by defining behavioral health based on their lived experiences.
During community meetings residents reviewed the results of community surveys ranking priority areas chosen by stakeholders, participants discussed priorities in multiple small groups and large group sessions. There was consensus on the follow priorities:
- Trauma and violence
- Engaging the community (including the faith-based community)
- Creating systems to support balance in body, mind, and spirit
- Healthy food
Participants discussed the meaning of several terms, including trauma. Participants defined trauma as the impact on individuals, family, and the community from crime, guns, domestic violence, and bullying. Educational, economic, and power disparity are the upstream drivers that create violence. Participants also noted there were trauma “hot spots”.
The Change We Want to See
Within each priority area, participants identified what change and success would look like in their community. The following was provided regarding each priority area:
- Trauma and Violence- the community would feel safer, there would be greater walkability, and a sense of utopia – “heavenly”.
- Engaging the Faith Based Community- there would be open communication forums to gain information and create relationships. People would know everyone. Law enforcement would be more personable with the community. People would mentor each other. People would “do for” each other.
- Creating Systems to Support Balance in Body, Mind, and Spirit- every child would have the ability to succeed educationally, graduate from high school, take the next step (e.g., college, internship, trade), earn a living wage, contribute to the community, and be a role model for their children. People would be employed, educated, connected, engaged in government, and live in a safe place. There would be access to quality housing and healthcare. People would be self-reliant.
- Healthy Foods- would include community gardens, decreased grocery cost, healthier living, and a decrease in those affected by diabetes. Gardens would ultimately build community and decrease violence.
Palm Healthcare Foundations, Community Partners, Children's Home Society of Florida, BRIDGES at Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach Housing Authority, Center of Child Counseling, Northwest Community Consortium Inc., FAU Community Health Center, Mental Health Association, City of West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach CRA, 211, BRIDGES at West Palm Beach, BRIDGES at Northwood, Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, RJ Hendley Christian School, Magellan Complete Care, The Vicker's House, Twin Lakes Housing, Urban Growers, PBC Criminal Justice Commission, Jerome Golden Center, PBC Victim Services, Chrysalis, Ephesus SDA Church, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, Salvation Army- West Palm Beach, The Go-To Therapists, Health Council of Southeast Florida, Cities United-City of West Palm Beach, A Better Way Home Care, West Palm Beach Police Department, Healthier Delray Beach, Healthier Jupiter, Healthier Boynton Beach
Palm Beach County Food Bank, Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach County, Shiloh Family Worship Center, Kafe Hub, City of Riviera Beach Police Department, School District of Palm Beach County, Live Fresh Palm Beach County, Inner City Innovators, St. George Episcopal Church, Councilwoman Lynn Hubbard, Catalyst Miami- Florida Thrives: Community of Practice, Planned Parenthood, Salt 513 Media, Riviera Beach Reentry Center, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Hurst Chapel AME Church, First SDA Church of Riviera Beach
- Identifying Root Causes- Acknowledging that there is an origin, understanding that origin and the underlying issues & reasons that result in particular problems and outcomes. There is history and that history is important.
- Cultural Competency- Understanding the community, where they come from, and why certain issues affect them. We are all experts in our own experiences. CO2: Consideration Of Others.
- Reducing the stigma and the negative feelings, ideas, and thoughts surrounding behavioral and mental health concerns.
- Partnership and Collaboration- Building upon the relationships, neighborhood connections, resources and strengths currently in place for the greater good of the community.
- Start Small to Build Positive Feelings- Building on even seemingly small accomplishments and celebrating all achievements to maintain forward momentum .
- Open and Honest Communication -Hosting, encouraging, and welcoming open and honest conversation at all engagements, understanding that this may include confrontation (agreeable disagreement).
Process and Implementation Outcomes:
Quality, meaningful collaboration
As suggestions are provided in community meetings HN is prioritizing collaborations based need.Associated Attachments:
Diverse community engagement and communication
HN took a step back and increased the seats on the Steering Committee to reflect 50% residents from the HN community.
The community defined Behavioral Health.
Focused on long-term sustainability
Residents acknowledged some of the most sustainable brick and mortars in their community to be inclusive of check cashing stores, liquor stores and churches. Residents then recommended connecting with faith-based organizations to increase positive outcomes.
October was jumpstarted by our Healthier Neighbors Youth Ambassadors at R. J. Hendley Christian School in Riviera Beach. The 7th and 8th grade classes are active participants in the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) sponsored by our local Planned Parenthood under the direction of Sheree Anderson. Our ambassadors engaged in an interactive force-field exercise during their focus group. Youth expressed what a “Healthy Riviera Beach” would look like. Their main idea was to find a way to depict positive relationships between kids and cops in the community.
Don’t Gamble with Your Future was held in November. This Community Conversation was suggested by HN residents and facilitated by the Keep Calm Crew at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach. During the conversation various service providers educated the community on healthcare rights as well as safety and mental health during the holidays. The City of West Palm Beach Police Department followed up with brochures on “What To Do When Stopped By A Law Enforcement Officer”. These brochures were a direct response to residents’ concerns expressed at the Community Conversation in July: a conversation about racial violence and public health. Thank you to the City of West Palm Beach Police Department for always being responsive to our community.
As stated in the introduction to the Impact Report, December was one of the most meaningful community meetings. During this session residents and other HN stakeholders labored to create a definition for behavioral health which best reflected their lived experience.
The Town Hall Meeting in January was greater than anyone could have expected. Over 100 students participated in this event representing the following schools: Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, Inlet Grove Community High School, John F. Kennedy Middle School, R. J. Hendley Christian School, Palm Beach Gardens High School, Riviera Beach Preparatory Academy and Suncoast Community High School. The City of Riviera Beach under the leadership of Councilwoman Lynn Hubbard and Police Chief, Clarence Williams insured each school was notified of the event and also provided transportation for all students. Group conversations with the youth were facilitated by Riviera Beach Police Department School Resource Officers, under the leadership of Sergeant R. Commond. Chief Williams recognized a great opportunity to engage school administrative staff who accompanied the students in a focus group gathering their ideas on positive behavioral health in the HN community. A special thanks to The City of Riviera Beach Police Department, Hurst Chapel AME Church, Councilwoman Hubbard, and each school involved. HN received so many innovative and forward thinking ideas from our youth.
In February HN Youth Ambassadors where able to witness their dream of depicting positive relationships between kids and cops by installing an art mural on the campus of Kafe Hub in Riviera Beach. Students worked diligently beforehand building relationships with local law enforcement, securing their artist, creating a sketch, and lastly, identifying an installation location. This day was filled with laughter, tracing, paint brushes and patrons of Kafe Hub joining the Ambassadors throughout the process. During lunch the Ambassadors where able to tour the Kafe and learn about how owners, Beethoven & Marchelle Francois, followed and fulfilled their dream.
The New Year brought on new opportunities. In March Healthier Neighbors was selected as one of eight organizations to participate in Catalyst Miami, Florida Thrives: Community of Practice. The Miami Thrives: Community of Practice is a performance-driven, challenge-centric professional development and capacity building program designed for executive leaders committed to community change. The program recently expanded beyond Miami to include Broward and Palm Beach. Upon completion the goal is to equipped communities with tools to enact concrete and sustainable change. Healthier Neighbors is prepared for the challenge and excited about how this will further impact positive behavioral health in our community.
- There are abundant resources and answers to the challenge of community mental health already in use in the community. Making this info accessible to those in need is the opportunity.
- Overcoming the barriers to good mental health begins by talking about it and caring for one another.
- Keep trusting the process. Although we are further along the process does not automatically speed up. We are still moving with intention and purpose.
Top three things you are proud to have accomplished through your work with Healthier Together:
- The progress made in defining the issue and creating strategies and tactics, driven by community members.
- The commitment of residents. The have a voice and are able to play an active part in the initiative.
- Mental Health First Aid implemented in the community and gaining momentum within the Faith-Based Organizations.
Top three challenges you have faced with your work with Healthier Together:
- Consistency with the same residents at community meetings will not always happens and we need to be prepared to educate new attendees on previous work. Our solution to this challenge was to create a "Trigger Report" which provides an overview of HN progress and processes.
- Getting input from all segments of the community (i.e. youth, elderly, unemployed, etc.) on a consistent basis. Turning the tactics into action that will make a measurable .
- More education and connection to the leaders in the congregations/faith-based organizations.
- Numerical targets for activities and success- Hearing from the community “what success looks like” for them in each of the priority areas.
- Assess data collection options- what will be the process by which we gather additional data
- Create evaluation plan for HN with resident input.
- Identify 6 churches to serve as HN sites with an HN Ambassador at each site.
- Create Service Agreements/MOU’s with key partners.
- Create an “Activities” sub-committee.
- Create and roll out a Behavioral Health Campaign.