Health happens in communities. Children who grow up in healthy communities are more likely to have better health and economic outcomes than those who are exposed to poverty, violence and marginalization during their critical developmental years. Research shows that some minority groups are more likely to live in unhealthy communities and experience disproportionate rates of poor health outcomes, which contribute to a greater burden of disease, poorer educational opportunities and lower economic opportunities later in life.
Since 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has promoted efforts to improve community health by building capacity among community residents to effect the changes they wish to see in their communities. Through the REACH program – Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health - CDC seeks to remove barriers to health caused by race or ethnicity, education, income, location, or other social factors.
Using techniques to engage community residents in visioning and problem solving, REACH participants build upon community strengths to effect change. Communities that have employed the REACH model have demonstrated improvements in healthy behaviors among community residents, such as increased physical activity and consumption of healthy foods; improvements in the physical environment of the communities; and reductions in crime.
Additional information about REACH efforts can be found on the CDC’s website.