Seeding and Supplementing Health Literacy to Grow Safe and Healthy Communities: Building Public Health Capacity Within Extension Offices to Support Health & Resilience
Principal Investigator: Gen Meredith
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant):
Humans grow and thrive in enabling environments, where healthier choices become the easier choices. However, many communities experience deep health disparities, requiring policy, systems, and environmental change to support better health access and outcomes. In rural communities, cooperative extension association educators are trusted leaders supporting rural development, and while many promote health via deep investments in the social determinants of health, they may not identify as public health leaders or feel equipped to engage in ‘formal’ public health initiatives. We aim to change that paradigm. By helping cooperative extension educators appreciate their vital role in public health improvement, we will augment their impact on public health and rural development.
This project will utilize two active distance-learning curricula to achieve four project objectives. Using the Public Health Essentials Training we will (1) build public health competence among inter-professional cooperative extension teams and collaborators, helping develop their ‘public health identities’; (2) facilitate development of coordinated public health improvement plans linked to existing county priorities; and (3) support planning to augment current extension programming to reach underserved communities. This will include integration of the Citizen Public Health Training, designed to motivate individuals and families to achieve health at every age. Using a developmental evaluation approach, the project management team will (4) assist each county team to continually monitor and improve processes to achieve program impacts: improved citizen health literacy, COVID-19 and opioid/substance misuse prevention, and use of health promotion programs that support community health, wellbeing, and quality of life.