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Partner development praxis: The use of transformative communication spaces in a community-academic participatory action research effort in a Mexican ethnic enclave in Chicago

“It’s about changing the way we DO public health” explained a community partner in describing the Little Village Participatory Community Health Assessment (LVCHA). “This IS public health” offered a student partner using a well known slogan from the American Public Health Association to broaden what we think is public health and name non-traditional activities. The LVCHA is a sustained, student-engaged, reciprocal community-academic partnership with organic community-based organizational leadership for community health inquiry.

Our goal is to describe, in an ongoing capacity, the health needs and assets in Little Village, from an emic, grounded perspective, with attention to SDOH, using iterative research methods, and producing new knowledge that is shared and disseminated toward action.  In working toward our goal, we are committed to transforming the way we engage in research and partner for social change. We developed Transformative Communication Spaces (TCS)  – to grow and learn together as co-leaders in participatory research among diverse partner groups – faculty, graduate students, community members and representatives of community based organizations. TCS strengthen the ability of participatory research to impact change, influencing not only participating individuals, but ultimately the systems (in the academy and in the community) from which the partners come.

We believe effective academic-community research partnerships driven by community residents who are mo st experienced with the health of their communities, is necessary to foster the transformative research needed for a productive social change/ health equity agenda. We invite you to learn about how our TCS promote co-leadership among our action research partners. As one of our student partners exclaimed at a TCS in which we were listening to community residents’ stories, “today is the single most important day in my graduate school training….it reminds me why I study public health!”

See a short video introduction.

Blog post by Jeni Hebert-Beirne

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning 28 April, 2017.

After you’ve had a chance to read this piece, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments below so we can continue this discussion!

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