From January to May of 2007, the Rice County Growing Up Healthy Campaign conducted twenty-two community dialogs with 161 participants. Twelve of the 90-minute dialogs were in English, seven were in Spanish, and three were in Somali. Participants were asked to identify what they worry about most with regards to the health and safety of their children, what they would like to see changed to alleviate these worries, and asked to give feedback on specific existing programs and services within the county that serve families with young children. During the summer of 2008, the Rice County Growing Up Healthy Community Leaders and service providers participated in similar conversations.
Over the course of these community dialogs many diverse issues were raised, but a number of common themes emerged. Topics that were discussed most frequently included:
Ø Health: Specifically the barriers that come when one lacks insurance
Ø Safety: Community members are concerned about youth having safe places to play, child abduction, and traffic safety
Ø Access to resources and services: Many participants expressed a lack of knowledge of what services and resources are available, difficulty navigating services/resources, lack of transportation to services, the need for more activities for children, and the problem of stigmatization of those who do access resources
Other topics that were brought up at multiple meetings included the lack of affordable housing and affordable childcare, as well as issues immigrants face including fear of deportation and accessing resources. Multiple groups mentioned a need for better understanding among diverse groups and cultural trainings.
Group participants also discussed solutions to community issues, including more safety education, a greater police presence, childcare co-ops, indoor space for recreation in the winter months, and many other suggestions.
Growing Up Healthy is now looking at ways to bring the community together to address these issues. As we move through the fall and winter months, opportunities to take action and make positive community change will be identified. Please stay posted!