The Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) is working with Stanford University’s “Our Voice” initiative to improve “health-impacting features” of the region and will begin with local citizen scientists helping with a national Walkability Action Institute.
The Our Voice program is managed by the Stanford Prevention Research Center at the Stanford University School of Medicine and is a mobile app that trained local citizen scientists can use to gather information that can then be used to address a specific program to improve the health of a community.
“This approach of citizen scientist has the ability to engage people in our community to discover, discuss, advocate, and make monumental changes. These changes will help to create a healthier living environment,” said Dr. Elizabeth McClain, ACHE chief wellness officer.
McClain said the first pilot program will use 25 local citizen scientists on the walkability study. The Fort Smith-based Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization is also working with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Walkability Action Institute. According to ACHE, the Fort Smith community is also participating in Robert Wood Johnson (RWJF) Action Learning Cohort to focus on building a culture of health.
“Once selected and trained, the citizen scientists will be able to use the Our Voice app on their phones to document health-related features of the community through geotagged photos, audio/text narratives, feature ratings, and walking maps. Once uploaded, the integrated images and audio/text narratives will be reviewed by the community group. The group will then use their own collective data to prioritize action areas, identify resources, and engage additional stakeholders who can collaborate on activating recommended changes,” McClain explained.
She said the first part of the work with Stanford and others is to complete three pilot projects in the near future. The first is the walkability study to be conducted in December, with the second being a January project with ACHE medical students. The third project in the early phase will include a health initiative in February with the Fort Smith Public School District.
“Once we establish our process we will begin our expansion out beginning with the Fort Smith community,” McClain told Talk Business & Politics.
McClain is working with Dr. Abby King, professor of Epidemiology & Population Health and of Medicine at Stanford and director of the Our Voice Research Initiative, on a “multi-year collaborative research agreement,” according to ACHE.