Dozens of people came out to take part in the first community health forum of the Monon Collaborative Community Impact Hub platform, an initiative created by the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). The event took place on Saturday, February 29 at the Flanner House in Indianapolis. During the forum, organized by Reverend Shonda Nicole Gladden from Good to the SOUL (GTTS), faith leaders and community organizers led a conversation about health and wellness. They also hosted break-out sessions which provided attendees an opportunity to discuss community health priorities, initiatives and challenges.
GTTS is a community ambassador for the Monon Collaborative Community Impact Hub focused on facilitating partnerships with and network among congregations to support clergy in generating a vision of health priorities and a governance structure for an interfaith health network. The Monon Collaborative is working to apply data and scientific expertise to develop and implement solutions to help Indiana become a healthier state.
“The Monon Collaborative sees community engagement as key to learning community health priorities and sees collaboration as key to responsive and holistic support for better health outcomes,” said Emily Hardwick, operations director for the Monon Collaborative. “The Community Impact Hubs provide a platform that brings together community and translational researchers to listen, understand, and identify pressing health and social determinant challenges in the community, and then leverages a wide array of data to design and deliver solutions and interventions that lead to better economic, educational, and health outcomes.”
At the February 29 event, several people spoke up about opportunities and concerns. Ron Rice, a near northwest side community builder, talked about how Flanner House is promoting recreational activities available in a neighborhood that features Riverside Park and other amenities. Other participants talked about how staying healthy and well is made challenging due to mistrust of the health care system and the invisibility of marginalized communities.
Other speakers included:
- Community youth advocate Sa’Ra Skipper shared testimony about the $1,000 cost barrier she has faced in getting insulin for her Type 1 Diabetes.
- David Craig, PhD, professor at IUPUI and co-leader for the Community Impact Hubs on the Monon Collaborative, invited attendees to join a learning community developing a vision for the interfaith health network.
- Jason Kelly, PhD, IUPUI professor and Arts and Humanities Institute director, invited people to get involved with a lead-testing campaign in Near Northwest Indiana.
- Reverend Ivan Douglas Hicks, PhD, First Baptist Church North Indianapolis senior minister, shared the work of The Ministerium, a coalition of clergy committed to advancing the causes of widows and children.
“These kinds of community engagement opportunities are incredibly valuable as we begin our work with the Monon Collaborative,” said Craig. “This was the first of what we hope will be many great events to encourage collaboration between communities and our programs.”
GTTS is an organization that works to energize people and institutions to flourish, through coaching, caring, consulting, connecting, cultivating and curating. GTTS is serving as the community and academic liaison on this initiative by providing culturally relevant strategic implementation guidance to the Indiana CTSI and other researchers.