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Creating an Environment for Healthy Lifestyles in Brownsville

This four-page case study (2014) from The Intersector Project outlines how the University of Texas School of Public Health used cross-sector collaboration with local clinicians and the City Health Department to create opportunities for healthier lifestyles in Brownsville, Texas.

From the Intersector Project

In 2001, the University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH) Brownsville campus began clinical research to identify and quantify what health risks existed in Brownsville. They found 80 percent of residents were either obese or overweight, one in three were diabetic (50 percent unknowingly), and 70 percent of residents had no healthcare coverage. After initiating a community media campaign called Tu Salud Si Cuenta, UTSPH formed a Community Advisory Board (CAB) in order to speak about the findings and promote change in the Brownsville community. They involved local clinicians, including Dr. Rose Zavaletta Gowen, an Obstetrician Gynecologist, to inform clinicians and encourage them to get involved. After agreeing actions needed to be taken, a team of UTSPH, the City Health Department, a local community health clinic Su Clinica, and Rose organized and designed a farmers’ market, with the goal of making fresh fruits and vegetables accessible and affordable to every income level in the city. The Brownsville Farmers’ Market opened in 2006 followed by an integrated network of initiatives including The Challenge, an annual weight loss event; CycloBia, an open streets program; policy changes including Sidewalk ordinance, Safe Passing ordinance, Complete Streets Resolution, and Smoking ban ordinance; and a Master Bike and Hike Plan aimed at providing a trail within one half mile of every residence in the city. The CAB, which today includes over 200 members, is actively involved in all of these programs in a variety of capacities to promote a healthier Brownsville.

IP_Brownsville“For cross-sector collaboration you might need to talk in terms that you’re not necessarily familiar with, but you have to do your research in order to find those connections to other areas and harness those partners. That is how we were able to make our projects work with very little funding and no line item in the city budget for what we were doing.”— Dr. Rose Zavaletta Gowen, Brownsville City Commissioner

This case study, authored by The Intersector Project, tells the story of this initiative.

More about The Intersector ProjectThe Intersector Project
The Intersector Project is a New York-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to empower practitioners in the government, business, and non-profit sectors to collaborate to solve problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. We provide free, publicly available resources for practitioners from every sector to implement collaborative solutions to complex problems. We take forward several years of research in collaborative governance done at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School and expand on that research to create practical, accessible resources for practitioners.

Follow on Twitter: @theintersector.

Resource Link: http://intersector.com/case/health_brownsville/ (Download the case study PDF here.)

This resource was submitted by Neil Britto, the Executive Director at The Intersector Project via the Add-a-Resource form.

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