Over the past year, BACH’s Community Engagement and Membership Planning Committee (CEMC), has collected data from our resident and organizational members regarding training needs, partnership opportunities, and BACH’s communication efforts, in order to develop more focused and utilized programming. With this information, CEMC has worked diligently to develop some exciting learning opportunities and events for 2017-2018 that we hope better suit the needs and interests of our membership. First up is Walk B.A.C.H, a series of walking tours through Codman Square in Dorchester on August 2ndBack Bay and South End, and Jefferies Point in East Boston, both on August 5th.

The tours will highlight the uniqueness of each community while using a public health lens to view the impact history has had on its health and development. Key issues to be discussed include gentrification, immigration and racism. This fall and winter, we are planning a screening of America Divided, an EPIX Original docu-series about inequality in education, housing, healthcare, labor, criminal justice and the political system, and a series of community health focused fireside chats. Additionally, we plan to launch new training and scholarship opportunities for our members this fall. Stay tuned for more details!

In May, eight BACH Ambassadors completed a 20 hour training session. The Ambassadors, is a pilot program designed to raise awareness on policy efforts directly affecting neighborhoods and encourage resident participation in advocacy related to community health, while connecting Boston residents with organizations in their neighborhoods. After a long search and interview process, we selected eight highly engaged residents from Dorchester, East Boston, Roxbury, South End and Mattapan who are passionate about connecting and partnering with their neighbors to improve the health of their community. Building from the curriculum used for BACH’s Healthy Community Champions program, this training included a focus on team building and leadership development, social determinants, understanding and utilizing health data, and racism and equity. After the rigorous training, the Ambassadors have narrowed their focus to issues of housing, and continue to learn about policy efforts in Boston in order to coordinate grassroots advocacy across neighborhoods.

On June 15, BACH hosted its first 2017 Membership and Community Meeting at Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury. The focus was on preventing youth substance use disorder (SUD) in Boston. Rebecca Bishop, from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services, discussed the city’s prevention planning process that is currently in the works, and how the city is looking for input moving forward from here on how to best create youth SUD prevention programming. Afterwards, participants broke out into four groups to talk about preventing youth SUD through the lens of four areas – schools; after school and youth programming; family, community, and faith-based organizations; and public messaging. We were able to get input not just from health professionals and community members, but a number of youth were also present and were able to discuss what they would like to see in prevention programming moving forward.

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