The Rio Grande Prevention Partners (RGPP) Community Coalition met for their August meeting virtually Tuesday, August 4. They completed another step in their endeavors to understand the importance of health equity and reviewed the report “Communities that Care: The Impact of Prevention in Colorado. Lessons Learned from Community Mobilizers in 46 communities.” The Communities that Care (CTC) program is the model RGPP has been utilizing for their prevention efforts for the past few years. This uses proven strategies and the positive youth development model to empower communities to address risk factors in their communities and build up existing protective factors.
RGPP Youth Advocate Max Garcia and Coalition Member, representing the Colorado Work Force Center, Ashley Maestas continued the coalition’s discussions on health equity with the August meeting focusing on the influence of social class and socio-economic status. Garcia and Maestas presented an article by the Pew Research Center that explained how various life quality and community factors including drug addiction, availability of affordable housing, availability of jobs, condition of roads and bridges, poverty, access to public transportation, traffic, crime, quality of K-12 public schools, racism, access to good hospitals and doctors, access to high-speed internet and access to grocery stores can affect urban, suburban and rural communities differently. The percentage of residents who see drug addiction as a problem was 50 percent in rural communities, 46 percent in rural communities but only 35 percent in suburban communities. Other issues showed more stark differences, including access to public transportation, with 43 percent of rural residents considering this a problem for their community, compared to 25 percent of suburban residents and 19 percent of urban residents. Access to high-speed internet was another striking difference, with 24 percent of rural residents considering it an issue, compared to 13 percent of urban residents and 9 percent of suburban residents. The full article can be found here: https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/05/22/views-of-problems-facing-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/
Garcia and Maestas also presented the video “The Impacts of Social Class: Crash Course Sociology #25” which explored how differences in social class can influence values including parenting styles, healthy eating priorities/abilities and religious affiliation. The video also explored factors affecting educational attainment and the link of quality education access to equity, including income segregation, the likelihood of attending higher education institutions/what type of institution and the link between these institutions and the types of work obtained as a result. Lastly, the video explored health equity, including the impact of social class on life expectancy, diseases stemming from food access, occupational hazards, stress and health care access/work-provided insurance and benefits packages.
The full video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a21mndoORE
Prevention Coordinator and CTC facilitator Nancy Molina presented the report “Communities that Care”: The Impact of Prevention in Colorado. Lessons Learned from Community Mobilizers in 46 communities.”Statewide CTC has four main priorities, “Create meaningful opportunities for youth engagement. Change community and social norms about how we model substance use and how we talk about misuse in families and among youth. Reduce the availability of substances in communities through local policies and enforcement of existing laws… and Encourage district-wide implementation of evidence-based social-emotional learning curricula…” CTC is active in 46 communities across the state, rural communities make up 35 percent (including Rio Grande County), frontier communities (remote, small communities) make up 17 percent and urban communities make up 45 percent of the participants. Eighteen hundred (1,800) community members and 200 youth are involved in CTC boards, coalitions, workgroups or in other decision making roles and the effects of CTC efforts are reaching 40 percent of the state’s population.
The report focused on three main impacts. The first, “CTC fosters multisector communication and collaboration,” concluded that “Coalitions are creating an environment where community members, agencies, and youth can come together to create change” and “Communities are building partnerships that will increase the sustainability of prevention and intervention work.” Under outcomes, the report stated “The expansion of multisector communication and collaboration has led many communities to effectively advocate for change at the local level. Many coalitions reported their belief that the passing of ordinances related to vaping and youth tobacco use was only possible due to the collaborative infrastructure developed with the support of CTC. For example, one community reported that having a coalition working across sectors led to a more organized and efficient change of local policy to increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 before the federal law change.” That community is likely referring to Rio Grande County, where local youth and coalition members successfully advocated for the minimum tobacco purchase age to be raised to Monte Vista City Council.
The second impact point, “CTC increases authentic community and youth engagement,” concluded that statewide “Communities are building relationships that are creating long-lasting community bonds… Communities are changing their perception of youth in the community… and Youth are using their voices to advocate for change in their communities.” The outcomes section of this impact point stated, “The increased diversity of voices involved in community decision-making has contributed to the strength of local advocacy efforts. One community specifically identified youth involvement as critical in the passing of vaping ordinances, while another referenced the importance of community-wide engagement in passing a needle exchange/ harm reduction program.”
Lastly the reported focused on how “CTC helps bring science to life across communities in Colorado,” concluding “Communities are increasingly valuing the role of [local] data in local decision-making… and Communities are more widely using data and enacting evidence-based strategies and practices…. The increased presence and use of data have contributed to an increase in general community awareness and mobilization around advancing local issues. Multiple communities found success in basing their advocacy efforts in evidence. For example, coalition members and youth around the state have presented research and observations of community needs to local key leaders. These efforts have successfully informed community changes around tobacco and nicotine regulations, as well as licensing requirements and enforcement policies for retailers.”
The coalition members then discussed what they perceived to be the biggest impacts of the CTC process in Rio Grande County. Garcia stated he believed the process has helped make the community safer by working around loopholes that could be found in less effective methods. Monte Vista Kids Connection Director Anika Velasquez stated “…as an adult looking in we think we know what the problems are [for youth] and how to solve them…” but the youth involvement and perspectives have been very enlightening for the coalition.
Molina agreed, pointing out how statewide “The communities do take ownership of the process,” and she found the same to be true in Rio Grande County, “We wouldn’t be able to do it without you.”
For more information on how you can help with prevention efforts and making our community healthier, contact [email protected], visit their website, https://rgpp.org/, or visit Rio Grande Prevention Partners on Facebook and Instagram