Undeniably, we live in a world of information, data, tweeting, posting, blogging, Instagramming, texting, pinging, just to name a few. For those of us of a certain age, we went from three TV channels to over 300. For generations born after 2004, the year Facebook was launched, the world was no longer the one that generations before them knew. Since then, how we communicate, how we send and receive information, the sheer volume of information that is available to us on our smartphones, is both limitless and relentless. Now more than ever, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. In other words, if we don’t define ourselves, talk about ourselves, then we leave others to define and talk about us. But it’s not just talking, it’s about using communication—in this case, narrative change—to define our health.
Data suggests and the personal experience of many Black families is our public systems—health departments, school districts, social services, etc., have failed us. Our school systems perpetuate a school to prison pipeline, health departments are unable or unwilling to create policies and fund services to improve our health conditions, and the social services agencies do more to keep families apart than unify them. It is for this reason, we are focusing on technical assistance-starting with health departments—to improve health policy, funding and services to the Black community. Our goal is to deploy culturally competent technical assistance teams to aid health jurisdictions throughout the region to identify, develop and build capacity to implement multi-disciplinary services that correct root causes that lead to greater access and culturally proficient health services.
Our experience informs us that the Black community responds to community and personal health modification messaging. Our Community Building and community health organizing builds upon that experience with an expanded concept to include community and personal behavior change strategies that are aligned with narrative change messaging, in partnership with Black-led organizations. Our new model will integrate narrative change messages with individual and community behavioral health interventions to mobilize youth, young adults, and their families to:
- Access health services and improve health outcomes;
- Develop healthy family strategies that support educational success of school engaged children and youth;
- Increase awareness and participation of services that support emotional and personal development to overcome community and family induced trauma that eliminate the barriers that impede workforce development and employment success; and,
- Support local health and wellness healing strategies that identify and eliminate trauma impacting Black families and their ability to achieve positive economic, social and health outcomes.