Monday, January 31, 2011

How to use the Texas Healthy Communities Blog

This blog is designed to provide guidance and information for Texas communities as they work toward building healthier environments for their citizens.  Using lessons learned from Texas communities experienced in designing and implementing healthy community initiatives, together with the expertise from established national programs, this blog serves as a resource to those who are contemplating developing healthy community programs.  

To the right, you will find links to each of the 6 practical guides for developing healthy communities:
    1. Leadership (Champion)
    2. Coalition Building (Internal Communication)
    3. Assessment Choices
    4. Intervention Design and Implementation
    5. Advocacy and Policy Change (External Communication)
    6. Evaluation

Each section contains an overview and links to practical guides selected from more than 20 online sources.
It is not meant to be an exhaustive collection of all programs ever developed, nor a review of them, but rather a place to start, a portal, an entrance and introduction to the many existing programs. It is meant to give you the opportunity to select appropriate components that you can customize for your specific community, or use in its entirety. 

About Us: Introduction

The Texas Department of Health and The University of Texas Department of Kinesiology and Health Education are working together, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to introduce and implement Healthy Communities statewide. We have developed a plan that provides technical assistance, training, and consultation for developing policy, changing environmental and system elements to prevent chronic diseases, and building healthy communities in Texas.

The Healthy Community initiatives, as determined by the CDC, are designed to focus on:
1. promoting physical activity and nutrition
2. reducing tobacco use and exposure
3. building capacity to implement policy, system, environmental and organizational changes related to chronic disease risk factors
4. fostering improved access to care
5. reducing/eliminating health disparities
6. reducing complications and incidence of chronic diseases

The State initiative agrees to include, without fees:
a) Dedicated staff experienced in health promotion interventions
b) Technical assistance and consultation in the form of evidence-based tools
c) Capacity and partnership building- utilizing state data to identify the burden of disease along with regular communications with expert consultants
d) Participation in on-going training at CDC-sponsored programs

Purpose: The Approach

The healthy community initiatives across the state of Texas was created to utilize the CDC budget most efficiently. Texas is the second largest state in the US, and has a population of 22.9 million people living in 254 counties over more than 268,500 square miles. Given the expansiveness of the state and the limited program budget, it was not feasible to propose a plan that included frequent intense and on-site support. Therefore, the planners decided on a three-pronged approach to maximize efforts to reach as many communities as possible.

1. Lessons learned and techniques implemented by four previously CDC-funded Texas Steps Programs (Steps to a Healthier US Cooperative Agreement) and ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation and Environmental Change) will be used to guide the development of other Texas Healthy Community projects.

2. Planners will identify two Texas communities poised for change and provide in-depth technical assistance to develop their healthy community initiatives.

3. Planners will create a statewide interactive exchange to include regular communications (via email, conference calls, etc.) and an instructive website providing assistance to other communities for development and implementation of strategies addressing the goals of the Healthy Community initiative. Training and development will be offered in addition to the regular guidance provided for the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program staff.