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New Initiative Builds Community Health Capacity in Buffalo | Health

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New Initiative Builds Community Health Capacity in Buffalo
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Three  groups are spearheading new community health initiatives in urban Buffalo, with support from the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo and the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York. 

The Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo’s mission is to provide opportunities for the residents of vulnerable neighborhoods to realize their full potential for health and well-being.  The network provides training and capacity building for frontline workers in the areas of health care, public health, housing, education, environment, food access and social services, with the intent to empower community members to define their own challenges and opportunities, and take action to self-determine their future. 

The Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York is an independent, private foundation whose mission is to improve the health and health care of people in Western and Central New York.    Utilizing a grant from the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, the network issued a call for proposals in June to community groups who had ideas for implementing projects to promote community wellness by building on existing community assets and utilizing community health workers and neighborhood residents as leaders.

The following partners will each receive $5,000, as well as support with community planning and organizational development:

United Partners for Public Education in Buffalo: This group of parents and community activists will be organizing parents, teachers, students, and community members and organizations in four of the city’s schools that have been designated as “persistently low achieving” - Dr. Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute, Bennett High School, International School 45 and South Park High School.  They will aim to build collaboration and bottom up, asset-based solutions to dramatically change the current state of education through a community planning process that engages all stakeholders in formulating actions.

Growing Healthy Together: This collaboration between Erie County Medical Center, neighborhood residents and several faith and community based organizations in the Delevan-Grider area of Buffalo will utilize a Community Health Worker to develop and promote the Farmers’ Market at Grider Street to provide access to fresh food and security for the surrounding community.

“Giving Voice” Series in Western New York: Ujima Theatre Company will spearhead an initiative to use theater as a tool to tell the stories of struggle, survival and triumph of local refugee women, giving them a medium through which they can express their health needs and experiences.  The stories will be integrated into a play that will be promoted as a tool for empowerment within the refugee community, and a medium for education and awareness in the health care/social services sector.  

 “This initiative gives individuals and communities the opportunity for good heath, and by that we mean a framework that fosters healthy environments where people can live, learn, work and play,” Jessica Bauer Walker, director of the Community Health Worker Network said.  “Too often we think of health as just health care, but health starts in our communities with safe streets, quality education, employment opportunities, quality and affordable housing and access to fresh and healthy foods.  Our neighborhood health grants will give frontline workers and residents an opportunity to produce solutions that make sense to them.” 

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