In the language of human-centered design, we say an innovation is never fully finished, you can always iterate and keep improving.  We believe by working together, innovators from Sibley and the community can create a partnership that will reimagine and reinvent what it means to be thriving, alive, and healthy in neighborhoods east of the river in Washington, DC.  That's the inspiration behind Ward Infinity.


Ward Infinity is a groundbreaking initiative pioneered by Sibley Memorial Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.  The program aims to strengthen community residents’ work on challenges related to health and wellness in Wards 7 and 8, two of the District’s most underserved communities.  Ward Infinity’s unique approach utilizes the Sibley Innovation Hub’s human-centered design process – Listen, Imagine, Do, Tell – to create solutions addressing the community’s health challenges.  The key aspect to Ward Infinity is that it is community-led: Sibley has partnered with local residents as the informed change agents, recognizing that the ultimate expert on how community health is experienced is the community itself.

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Bringing Innovation to the Community through Ward Infinity

In May 2017, Sibley hosted a series of one-on-one conversations with more than a hundred individuals, including faith leaders, parents, high-school students, senior citizens, and community leaders of Wards 7 and 8.  Through these listening sessions, community members shared their personal stories and insights about the health challenges facing Wards 7 and 8 residents. Based on the common themes expressed in these conversations, Sibley created a fresh, new initiative: the Ward Infinity Community Health Innovators program.  

In August 2017, we invited residents and non-profit organizations in Wards 7 and 8 to apply to participate in the first-ever Ward Infinity Community Health Innovators program. Over a four-month long period, the Innovators would work with Sibley and the Ward Infinity Advisory Council – a group of community and government leaders – to build targeted, creative solutions that address the health concerns identified during the listening tour.  Sibley selected nine residents to became the first cohort of the Community Health Innovators program.

Phase I

During the first phase of Ward Infinity, Sibley provided each of the five teams $25,000 in scholarships, access to the Sibley Innovation Hub and Hive 2.0 workspaces, and expert advice from both Sibley and the Advisory Council to explore and develop solutions.  We trained the nine Innovators in the Sibley Innovation Method – our human-centered design approach, a creative and collaborative method. 

Innovation at Sibley is not prescribing an outcome but rather a process.  By teaching the cohort the human-centered design process, we equipped the teams with a toolkit to approach challenges with creativity and collaboration.  At Sibley, our method is simplified into four main phases: Listen, Imagine, Do, Tell.  Ward Infinity Innovators began their journey by listening to the needs of their end-users in Wards 7 and 8, in this case, their fellow residents in their communities.  They used insights from those listening sessions to fuel creative, imaginative problem-solving.  In the Do phase, the participants tested their ideas to determine which have the highest likelihood of desirability and impact.  And lastly, in the Tell phase, on March 2018, the first cohort presented their innovative solutions at the Ward Infinity Town Hall Forum, with over 100 attendees, including government and community leaders.  This Forum marked the end of Ward Infinity’s first phase.



What's Next? Phase 2 of the Community Health Innovators

Following the town hall forum, the Advisory Council used a series of business and public health criteria to evaluate the teams for potential sustainability within the local community. While all five teams demonstrated an extraordinary understanding of the public health issues that their original proposals sought to address, only two teams moved on to Phase 2 of programming: Team Bloom and Team Market 7.  The Advisory Council is supporting a second phase of these projects so that the Innovators can further test their design concepts and develop potential piloting opportunities.  While Team Playback did not proceed to Phase II, Sibley continues to provide limited support in further development of their innovative arts and wellness concept.

Each of the remaining teams has received a series of individualized recommendations from the Advisory Council that are meant to help foster:

·      better business and public health related strategies,

·      more promising and sustainable community partnerships, and

·      additional development and piloting prototypes for their prototypes.