Peoria has been selected as one of 50 mid-size cities nationwide to test potential community-driven solutions to improve health outcomes in low-income communities.
The five-member team will interface with its counterparts from the other 49 cities participating in the Invest Health initiative, as well as other stakeholders in Peoria to, ideally, lay a framework for driving community change that can be replicated across the United States.
“As we move forward and develop these relationships more, ideally we’re going to be creating new solutions and testing those potential solutions to see what may drive investments to help achieve health equity in low income communities,” said Melissa Adamson, director of community health policy and planning at the Peoria City/County Health Department.
Derrick Booth, director of social and emotional learning at Peoria Public School District 150, Jennifer Daly, CEO of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, Lari LaBello, director of the nursing assistant program at Illinois Central College, and Ross Black, director of the City of Peoria’s community development department will join Adamson on the team leading Peoria in the process.
Those five individuals will kick off the Invest Health Initiative by attending a meeting June 7 in Philadelphia where they’ll begin to discuss the process they will follow through the 18-month process driven by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Reinvestment Fund.
Adamson said so far, the group has discussed only big-picture goals, such as making safety and environment their main focus with a secondary emphasis on education and training. How specifically they’ll address those issues and how they’ll spend the $60,000 grant attached to the project has yet to be determined at this early stage of the process.
It could be creating safe spaces for children to play, providing a more walkable, accessible community, or improving access to healthy foods that Adamson said could be expected to drive higher graduation rates and decrease violent crime.
In all, Invest Health provides a platform for the five institutions represented on its team and the other community organizations they will partner with to align their goals and unify their assets to maximize impact in the community. They’ll be collaborating on that strategy with the other mid-size communities selected for the initiative, including central Illinois neighbor Bloomington.
Peoria’s delegation will attend four meetings of the national group before the end of 2017 with the goal of developing a long-term framework to improve the health of low-income communities that can continue in these 50 cities and be replicated nationwide.
by Laura Nightengale