Innovative community health projects win funding

Four winners in the first Community Health Innovation Awards will share $50,000 to fund implementation of their projects.

The projects have been presented, the judges have evaluated and now the prizes for the inaugural Community Health Innovation Awards are ready to be doled out. On Oct. 23, the One Great Community council of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Clinical and Translational Science will distribute $50,000 to four groups from the Birmingham community who designed creative solutions to local public health problems.

community-health-awards_s“We are thrilled with the response to our inaugural Community Health Innovation Awards, and with the vision and innovation displayed by the applicants,” says Max Michael, M.D., dean of the School of Public Health. “We look forward to watching how these awards will be utilized in an effort to tackle some of our most pressing local community health issues.”

A One Great Community council survey of neighborhood leaders in early 2012 revealed that diabetes, high blood pressure, crime, lack of sidewalks/walking trails, empty lots and abandoned homes were among community members’ top concerns. Any local non-profit 501(c)3 organization or resident was eligible to apply. Those taking part were partnered with UAB faculty and then a series of workshops were offered to help participants hone their projects to meet the needs of the community. In total, eight projects were submitted and presented to a panel of five judges on Friday, Oct. 19.

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the winners will receive their checks at the new UAB School of Public Health–sponsored Edge of Chaos facility in the Lister Hill Library, located at 1700 University Boulevard. The winners will also receive a copy of author Stephen Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From: the Natural History of Innovation, as part of the 2012 Carole W. Samuelson Endowed Lecture.

The winners are:

  • AIDS Alabama’s Beauty in Knowing Program ($15,000) – This health education dissemination project works with cosmetology professionals serving women in the greater Birmingham community. The group of women will participate in trainings that will address domestic violence, substance abuse, healthy eating, stress-management and the factors that lead to disproportionate rates of illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension in communities of color.
  • Friends of West End Neighborhood Beautification Program ($5,000) – A 12-month initiative to restore pride in the West End Community by mowing lawns, planting flowers and shrubbery and working with seniors to keep their lawns beautiful. The goal will be to maintain 25 lots per month.
  • Norwood Resource Center’s Community Gardening Program ($25,000) – The center intends to create four community gardens, collectively known as the Norwood Learning Gardens, dispersed throughout the neighborhood on three vacant and neglected lots and at Norwood Elementary School. Norwood Learning Gardens will focus on teaching in order to educate neighbors and their children about the importance of good nutrition and exercise — and to help them to become better gardeners and stewards of the soil that they cultivate — all while strengthening the fabric of the neighborhood. The goal of the project is not simply to create a community garden, but to create a culture of family gardening in a community setting.
  • UAB Sociology Walking Bus Pilot Program ($5,000) – This “walking bus” program in three Birmingham neighborhoods — UAB, Five Points South and Lakeview — will promote safe transportation of community members to and from work, restaurants and entertainment venues while simultaneously promoting health and reducing crime. Walking buses are similar to traditional buses in that they have fixed routes with designated stops and pickup times, but because passengers walk instead of ride in a vehicle they also have the added advantages of encouraging physical activity, raising community awareness of how walkable a community is and where improvements can be made, decreasing crime, reducing traffic congestion and pollution, and minimizing transportation costs.

    Over the next year, the groups will be implementing their projects with the new funding. They will be asked to document their work by way of photos, success stories and any data they may collect.

    The awards were sponsored by the CCTS/One Great Community, UAB School of Public Health, UAB Center for the Study of Community Health, UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health and the UAB Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. 

    For more information about the winners, the judges, the applicants and the program in general, email or call Shauntice Allen at sallen1@uab.edu or 205-413-4507.

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