First Year Cleveland

First Year Cleveland

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Biomedical Research Building
11000 Cedar Avenue - 4th Floor Cleveland, OH 44106

Phone 216-368-4837
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The Impact of Community Involvement

The Impact of Community Involvement

As a student pursuing a dual master’s degree in public health and social administration, I went through my field placement at First Year Cleveland (FYC). I am excited to have been able to work for an organization that involves the entire community and collaborates with members of different fields and disciplines.

FYC has 11 action teams that work together and with the community to reduce infant mortality rates in Cuyahoga County. These action teams are truly unique, and I have not come across any organization that tackles an issue in quite the same way as FYC. Public health and social work both have a strong emphasis on community, and it is amazing to see an organization take a community approach to get work done and make progress on an issue. I believe this is a good approach to take.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all communities are built the same. Even if communities have similar issues, they may not be caused by similar circumstances. The solutions for one community are not necessarily the solutions for another.

In both my undergraduate and graduate level classes, we discussed how it can be problematic for “outsiders” to come into a community and then tell residents how they should fix their problems. Often, these individuals come to the community, tell residents what needs to be fixed and then leave immediately after making these suggestions. This is not the most impactful way to make changes in a community. There is a certain level of unease or distrust of outsiders when they come in and tell residents what they need to be doing to make their community better.

FYC, on the other hand, works with existing organizations and experts in the community to build teams of individuals that take on different issues surrounding infant mortality in the City of Cleveland. By tapping into the expertise and knowledge of current residents and established organizations in Cleveland, FYC is building sustainable solutions and driving support and buy-in from other community members. Overall, this organization is ensuring that the individuals in the community are the ones shaping solutions based not just on their expertise in the field, but also on their experiences as community members and residents.

Yes, it sometimes is beneficial to have individuals from outside the community work with residents and organizations; however, these unique perspectives are meant to raise questions and bring in different ideas, not necessarily shape the change that needs to be made. FYC recognizes this and, while they do collaborate with people from outside of Cuyahoga County, their focus is on a community-driven solution. In public health and social work this is a great approach to creating change. It empowers the community, who oftentimes best know and understand their needs and how to meet them.

Overall, I am enthusiastic about the work FYC is doing and I am very happy to have been a part of this organization.

Posted Friday, May 10, 2019

Written by FirstYearCLE Contributor

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