The YMCA of Coastal Georgia, in partnership with Healthy Savannah, has been awarded a five year, $3.4 million collaborative grant to undertake a REACH project from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) was started by the CDC in 1999 to help reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic populations with the highest burden of chronic disease, (i.e. hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity), through culturally tailored interventions to address preventable risk behaviors, (i.e. poor nutrition, smoking and physical inactivity).
The primary approach of the Savannah/Chatham County REACH project- H.O.P.E. –is to reduce health disparities among African American and Hispanic/Latino Americans in low income neighborhoods in seven zip codes in Chatham County by improving access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity, and creating more effective community linkages between people in need and the clinical service providers and community organizations that can help. The priority populations, geographic areas, health disparities, and barriers to health were identified from the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System.
The YMCA and Healthy Savannah have established a strong, collaborative infrastructure and have a successful history of working together to improve public health. The coalition is comprised of over 28 local members who are serving the African American and Hispanic American communities in Savannah and Chatham County. Healthy Savannah has worked for more than a decade to improve public health and reduce health disparities.
The strategies and activities involved in the Savannah/Chatham County REACH project will center around Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Community-Clinical Linkages. The intermediate outcomes H.O.P.E will achieve are 1) increased number of places offering healthier foods, 2) increased number of persons with access to healthier food, 3) increased number of continuity of care/community support actions implemented for breastfeeding, 4) increased number of places that improve community design by connecting safe and accessible places for physical activity, 5) increased number of persons with safe and accessible places for physical activity, 6) increased use of appropriate and locally available healthy or community programs.
Some of the major undertakings outlined in the project include; expansion of Farm Truck 912’s work to increase food access, support from Savannah HealthMPowers for technical assistance to increase healthy food options in neighborhood retail stores, work with Chatham Area Transit to continue to improve mobility in the priority areas, advocacy work for support of the City of Savannah’s New Zoning Ordinance which promotes walkability, mixed-use, diverse housing and small-scale development to support neighborhood stability and character, collaboration on the work being undertaken by the Tide to Town Urban Trail Network, development of a living Community Service Directory for clinical and community safety net services and the establishment of a new Community Health YMCA which will work to develop and deliver programs on-site at public housing in the REACH priority areas reducing barriers for participation and access and encouraging participation as a means to preventing and managing chronic diseases and improving health outcomes.
Through this innovative grant and the dedication of the community partners, the YMCA and Healthy Savannah look forward to bridging the health gap in our neighborhoods and envision a community where access to health and wellness resources is available for all. If you are interested in learning more about the program or possibly partnering with the Savannah/Chatham County Community REACH project, please contact Paula Kreissler at Paula@healthysavannah.org.