Health Promotion: A Community-Based Perspective

  • Jacqueline Reed
    Address reprint requests to Ms. Reed, Executive Director, westside Health Authority, 5437 West Division, Chicago, IL 60651.
    From the Westside Health Authority, Chicago, Illinois
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      This article outlines the model for health promotional activities developed by the Westside Health Authority (WHA). WHA has extensive experience in health promotions through community clinics and organizations. It addresses several reasons why traditional health promotion programs implemented by universities and health institutions often fail to curb the escalation of preventable health problems. Universities seek community involvement usually only at the implementation stages of such programs, and even when leaders are invited to participate in earlier need assessments, significant community investment is not achieved. True respect and trust for the community’s ability to solve problems are often missing in health promotional attempts. WHA has learned three lessons in implementing programs: (1) people’s lives cannot be disintegrated into a set of problems defined and “fixed” by “experts”; (2) health promotion programs must be designed in cooperation with the community; and (3) health promotion should encompass a means by which “affirming relationships” can be developed. WHA attempts to provide opportunities for residents to use what they already know to accomplish health promotion by connecting individuals within the community, affirming each other’s ideas, and developing strategies from the ground up.
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