Working together to improve the health of Somerville
The Somerville Community Health Agenda (SCHA) is an innovative partnership between Cambridge Health Alliance, Somerville Health Department and the community that works collaboratively to improve the health of Somerville residents.
The SCHA has historically been guided by principles associated with the Healthy Communities movement, which embraces a broad definition of health that goes beyond the absence of disease to address root cause issues in communities. Some of the other principles include:
- Having a collaborative, consensus-based approach to problem-solving that involves a diverse group of people from the community.
- Having an assets approach that defines people and relationships based on their skills and abilities rather than their needs and deficits.
- Addressing our challenging at a broad systems level rather than doing another short-term, low impact project.
- Benchmarking and measuring progress and outcomes.
- Realizing shared community values and projecting those values into a compelling vision of the future.
The SCHA recognizes that health is greatly influenced by many things around us, including social, economic, political, and environmental factors as well as our own behaviors, all of which influences the selection of initiatives to improve community health. Increasingly, the work of the Agenda strives to address these determinants of health and health inequities that lead to health disparities.
Core activities include collecting, assessing, and disseminating community health data, community visioning, coordinating systems change efforts, and facilitating coalition development. Since 2010, SCHA has created a monthly listing of “Somerville Health Happenings” to help communicate the wide range of health impacting efforts and resources available to improve the health of Somerville residents. This is available on our website or by email by sending a request.
In 2011, the latest Well-Being of Somerville report was released including data from the 2010 Census, years of trend data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey data from 2002 and 2008/9, as well as numerous other sources. The intention is that the report can serve as a springboard for cross sector dialogues to address the resulting recommendations.
The SCHA supports community coalitions that work on issues which affect health and quality of life such as substance abuse prevention, positive youth development, children's oral health, access to healthy foods, nutrition and physical activity promotion, immigrant health, and environmental health.
In 2003-2004, the SCHA has been involved with implementing an improved Youth Risk Behavior Survey, coordinating the process to establish a citywide Youth Council, grantwriting to increase the capacity of Somerville Cares About Prevention, and coordinating the Mayor's Taskforce on Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion.
The SCHA regularly produces the Wellbeing of Somerville report, and Guide to Somerville Community Groups and Coalitions.