St. Petersburg collaborators work to reduce health disparities and emphasize the importance of exercise, community safety

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St. Petersburg collaborators work to reduce health disparities and emphasize the importance of exercise, community safety

Photo credit: Trung Vo Photography

On July 8, 2017, a Community Health Awareness Event commenced at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus with a focus on health equity, both on and off the streets. The event is a result of community partnerships between Healthy St. Petersburg, the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Initiative, the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, and the City of St. Petersburg.

Although the organization of the event mimics international travel, with “passports” that are provided at check-in and stamped as people visit information tables and view short documentary films, its focus is close to home. “Our concern is with local public health and working to change current health disparities,” says Melissa Davis, Program Coordinator & Equity Specialist at Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. Davis says health disparities sometimes concern local transportation access and safety; for instance, the ability to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle may be an unmet need for both individuals and families. “Everyone should have access to helmets, know how important it is to wear them, and know how to wear them correctly,” she says.  

Davis describes the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative as a “learning collaborative that assists health and human service organizations in providing more effective care to racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse groups, and aims to reduce health disparities based on such factors.” According to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps’ Model of Population Health, employed by the Healthy St. Petersburg program, physical environments, transit, and community safety account for health outcomes and impact longevity and quality of life. To focus on these areas at the Community Health Awareness Event, the City of St. Petersburg provided helmets, helmet fittings, and safety information and resources to the residents in attendance. In addition, new bicycles were provided by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative and given away as prizes that could be won when peoples’ “passports” accrued at least 14 exhibitor stamps and one film screening stamp. Maps of St. Pete’s trail system were also made available to the people in attendance, perhaps showing them paths to health that, previously, they had not known existed. “We want to emphasize the importance of exercise and exercising safely; it all ties into health equity, having the resources and information to stay healthy,” Davis says.  

Davis has since organized a second event to take place on November 4, 2017, at the Jet Jackson Recreation Center at 1000 28th Street South, between 10AM and 2PM. The event is open to the public, and passport stamps earn attendees lunch (lunch is provided to children under 18) and the opportunity to win prizes. Attend the upcoming event for a chance to win and support community health initiatives that address local problems of inequity. “We are looking forward to the next Community Health Awareness event,” says Davis. “Our goal is ensure that everyone has the resources and support to reach their best health, regardless of who they are, how they travel, or where they live.”

For more information contact Melissa Davis at clccoordinator@tampabayhealth.org.

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