In 2007, together with many New Haven community Yale University partners, we launched CARE: Community Alliance for Research and Engagement. Our mission (informally-stated) is to bring evidence to action to improve health. In 2017, just before coming to Yale-NUS College, we celebrated CARE’s 10th Anniversary. When I was in New Haven earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in a strategic planning meeting regarding the future of CARE, given an influx of new funding and new partnerships. CARE has always been multi-sectoral, with participants from the health sector as well as government, transport, schools, faith-based organizations, arts, job-training and more. A shared leadership model has emerged with Southern Connecticut State University to assure sustainability.
It was really rewarding to see that this work has continued to deepen and expand. During the first decade, a few highlights for me were the triennial household surveys where we hired and training community members to knock on doors and sit on stoops to learn about health and social determinants from thousands of city residents, and then worked to implement solutions. A project one summer with high school students who walked 3000 Miles to conduct an asset map of neighbourhood food and physical activity landscapes. A critically-acclaimed exhibition at the Peabody Museum, entitled Big Food: Health, Culture and the Evolution of Eating. A randomized controlled trial of policies in 12 New Haven middle schools that resulted in improved health outcomes for adolescents in schools with targeted nutrition policies. Most importantly, the ability to engage deeply at the neighbourhood level with community leaders and residents in the six lowest-resource neighbourhoods in New Haven – working together for equity and empowerment and improved health outcomes.
I learned a lot from my years at CARE: The importance of showing up fully and being deeply committed; that trust and respect are hard to gain but take a moment to lose; and that in partnership we can do so much more. It was lovely to see my colleagues and friends at CARE, and I wish them continued engagement and success!