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Neighbors Give Neighbors the Gift of a Healthier Future

Health Promotion Coordinator Jessica Alvestad
by Jessica Alvestad12/26/2018 10:00 a.m.
Updated: 01/04/2019

Gift exchanges between loved ones are common this season. People in Springbrook received a community-wide gift all residents can enjoy—the gift of better health outcomes.

An isolated and underserved community

Springbrook is in Lakewood. Bordered by Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the east and I-5 to the west, Springbrook is cut off from the rest of the city. The community has few grocery stores, limited public transportation, and few gathering spaces. Springbrook’s seclusion and limited opportunities and services have led to some of the poorest health outcomes in the county.

In our Healthy Communities Nurture Healthy People blog post, we wrote about our work to support community action, especially in our six Communities of Focus. Springbrook is one of them. These are communities in the county with the poorest health outcomes and greatest potential to improve.

The residents of Springbrook have a desire to improve their health and community. The health department partnered with them to help.

Challenge accepted: Grassroots ideas and community-led decision making

Springbrook Connections  is a community organization that’s been around since 2014. The organization meets monthly and connects residents with free community meals, gifts at Christmas, Halloween parties and more. We approached them about a community-led project to promote good health and civic engagement. The health department provided support and funding. Community members did the rest.

Youth volunteers went door-to-door to collect ideas from residents. From the 53 ideas, Springbrook Connections members created six project proposals. On April 28, 59 residents went to Springbrook Park to vote on them. The three proposals with the most votes were community dinners, improvements to the community garden, and a day camp for kids. The health department invested $20,000 in them. Between June and December, the results have been:

  • 871 residents received 12 free meals at community dinners.
  • Nearly 1,800 pounds of fruits and vegetables came from the community garden.
  • 60 kids served at the day camp.

This non-traditional approach to give residents control of projects that affect their communities—also known as participatory planning and budgeting—allows them to take the lead on improvements where they live, learn, work, and play. People most affected decide where the money will go. It’s a present they give to themselves and their neighbors to be healthier, more connected, and more resilient.

This work is part of our health equity initiative. All people should have the opportunity to reach their full health potential. Learn more at www.tpchd.org/healthequity.

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  1. Updated: 01/04/2019
  2. Updated: 01/03/2019
Health Promotion Coordinator Jessica Alvestad

by Jessica Alvestad

Jessica supports our community outreach efforts to empower residents to achieve better health outcomes.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.