Innovators In Residence Shine During Town Hall Forum.
The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services Community Room was buzzing with the voices and opinions of Ward 7 and 8 residents, eager for a change in their communities, during the Ward Infinity Town Hall Forum on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, hosted by Sibley Memorial Hospital. This groundbreaking initiative brought together a group of "Community Health Innovators in Residence," individuals who live east of the river working together to pilot life-changing opportunities to improve the health, health literacy, and safety of their neighborhoods. The Town Hall Forum marked the culmination of months of hard work on the part of the Innovators as they presented their ideas for health improvement.
Five teams spear-headed this operation, choosing a community-related issue to address, researching the topic, and presenting their ideas on ways to address the problem and improve health.
Team Bloom (Diane Brent-Farmer and Hortense Farmer, residents of Ward 7) is working to reduce the disparate rates of chronic disease through wellness parties that create a safe space for neighbors to sample and incorporate healthier foods into their diets.
Team Playback (Tamika Jones, Jason Anderson and John Johnson of Ward 8), hopes to provoke thoughtful conversations about health and wellness through the use of theater arts.
Team Hope (Brenda Liddell of Ward 7) is advocating for the improvement of customer service within local healthcare and social service organizations through patient advocacy.
Keys to Canaan (Deborah Nix of Ward 7) wants to increase residents' access to readily available resources and help them navigate the healthcare system.
Market 7 (Mary Blackford and Jacob Clark, of Ward 7) aims to convene small businesses to expand healthy food access and retail opportunities in the area.
Special guests included Maranda C. Ward, Commissioner (DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission, SMD 7B03), the Ward Infinity Advisory Council, and Master of Ceremony Sam Ford, DC Bureau Chief of ABC7 and News Channel 8.
Each team presented their projects to over 100 attendees. Audience members listened attentively as the teams shared how they will encourage residents to live healthier, more sustainable lives. Guests also shared their personal experiences with the healthcare system, chronic disease, and other local concerns.
At the conclusion of the forum, attendees had an opportunity to speak with the Innovators during an after-program reception. In addition, guests completed a survey about the event and the presentation topics. Collectively, they agreed that a healthy community is a drug-free environment without liquor stores on every corner that includes holistic partnerships to promote healthy living, access to grocery stores with fresh produce, economic clarity in all facets of the neighborhood, diverse dining options beyond fast food, and affordable healthcare.
In addition, guests also agreed that the most important challenges are reducing dependency on medication; enhancing customer service at doctors’ offices; increasing access to affordable medication; providing dental insurance for seniors on Medicare; reducing the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease among residents; and producing thriving, black-owned businesses and marketplaces for all important things, such as health care, healthy food, art and entertainment more accessible.
The Town Hall Forum addresses the community concerns that matter most, and residents left feeling optimistic that the Ward Infinity projects will work to address those concerns.