Spotlights & Profiles

Faculty & Staff Spotlights

Partnerships improving community health

October 18, 2016

When it comes to changing the course of people's lives, there is strength in collaboration.

That's the theory behind Community Health Partnerships, a civic engagement arm of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, based in Indianapolis.

Community Health Partnerships, often called CHeP, provides engagement for CTSI in its efforts to put research and knowledge into practical solutions for health-related challenges.

Art became a part of the Your Life Your Story plan to improve self-image.

Faculty like Zeb Wood of the School of Informatics and Computing (in an orange T-shirt) and members of other schools at IUPUI have worked with Indianapolis-area students during the Your Life Your Story summer camp. The camp uses art as a way to improve the sense of identity among Latino youth (often wearing green shirts) who face issues adjusting to a life in a different culture.

CHeP's mission is to improve the health of Indiana residents by supporting community-university partnerships. One such partnership is the Your Life Your Story program, a research-based summer camp created to help Marion County Latino youth.

Your Life Your Story group

The Your Life Your Story summer camp based at IUPUI has helped numerous Marion County Latino youth develop a stronger sense of identity through a series of activities and a yearlong program of follow-up.

The program connects campus schools such as the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and the Herron School of Art and Design with local groups, including the Latino Health Organization and the Indiana Minority Health Coalition. The goal is to provide support for young people who sometimes struggle to fit in culturally and give them tools to strengthen their self-image and identity within the community.

CHeP uses a variety of methods to connect leaders in community health and research faculty:

  • Pilot funding for community-based studies in health
  • Consultation to help community or university groups and individuals find a partner, or to learn more about community-engaged research techniques
  • Hosting training events
  • Hosting networking meetings
  • Offering Patient Engagement Core services, which provide interactive, creative forums to help improve the patient's experience

Sarah Wiehe, the director of Community Health Partnerships, believes in her organization's mission, which helps identify problems, determine how widespread the impact of an issue might be and find solutions that work within the framework of a community's day-to-day life. And putting theory into action requires a team approach that relies on both academic and community approaches.

Community Health Partnerships features a diverse mix of backgrounds among its members. Its leadership team, for example, includes pediatricians, internists, public health experts, nutritionists and visual communicators, among others, a cross-section of disciplines that Wiehe said enables CHeP to take creative approaches that might not emerge from a traditional academic approach.

CHeP has more than 200 community partners from all across the state, ranging from the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Indiana to the Indianapolis Urban League to United Way of Central Indiana.

"We improve health by solving problems together where we live, work, learn and play," said Wiehe. "We create and support teams of community and university partners working together by combining their unique strengths, attributes and resources. And our partnerships generate new knowledge and use the best evidence to create visionary solutions to improve health."

Community Health Partnerships also provides access to the latest work related to community health through newsletters, events and a CHeP blog.

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