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Georgia to Train Community Leaders around Georgia to Build Culture of Health

Imagine that every Georgian has fresh food to eat, lives on safe streets, and enjoys physical and mental well-being — no matter what their ethnicity, income or ZIP code. Teams from five Georgia communities participating in the University of Georgia’s Public Health Leadership Academy are imagining just that.

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[Photo: Team members from Colquitt County map out ways to foster healthy living in their community during the March session of UGA’s Public Health Leadership Academy. Team members include Mr. Ross Dekle from South Georgia Bank, standing, Ms. Angela Castellow of United Way of Colquitt County, left , and Ms. Whitney Costin, Colquitt County Archway professional]

“The issues we face in public health — such as obesity, infant mortality and teenage pregnancy — are complex problems,” said Dr. Marsha Davis, associate dean for outreach and engagement in the UGA College of Public Health. “Solutions involve multiple strategies and different sectors within communities. We need to have an understanding that everyone is in this together.”

To do that, the College of Public Health partnered with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at UGA to design the Public Health Leadership Academy, which is in the process of training community leaders to create and sustain a culture of health in their home communities. CPH offers the public health expertise and Fanning brings expertise at building community capacity and collective impact.

“This innovative collaboration is a departure from individual leadership development,” said Louise Hill, a senior public service associate and co-lead of the Fanning team.

“Teams from different sectors of a community—such as health, education, business and policy — are training together to learn how they can build a culture of health locally.”

Healthy communities implement policies and practices that influence the social, economic, psychological and environmental well-being of the community on people’s health and offer ways for individuals to make healthy choices. That means many sectors of the community play a role in creating that supportive environment including education, housing, transportation, recreation, nutrition, safe and clean environments, access to health care, employment and income.

While there are many forms of collaboration, the collective impact model is designed to address a big problem that needs a long-term solution. The approach mines existing community assets, knitting together social capital, people and organizations in new and different ways that align resources and efforts around a given outcome — in this case, a better culture of health.

“We see that a collective impact approach can move the needle on complex social issues like in public health when the traditional approach won’t,” said Ms. Carolina Darbisi, public service associate and co-lead of the Fanning team.

Original article can be found at: http://discover.uga.edu/index.php?/article/health15-academy