Health promoter program builds community, better health outcomes

Diverse and Resilient - Branching Out

A neighborhood festival. A barbershop. A college campus. A bar. No matter the city or setting, these venues all share one thing in common – they serve as prime outlets for education and perfect opportunities for Diverse & Resilient to help impact health behaviors within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.That is what the agency has found over the past decade through its community health promoter program, which engages LGBT youth and adults to conduct community outreach and education to the LGBT community at large.

The program began as a way for Diverse & Resilient to extend its outreach in the community and address emerging health disparities. Over the years, its cadre of volunteers, who each receive a small monthly stipend, has grown from five to more than 100 working throughout Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee.

Diverse & Resilient offers eight-hour training sessions and also provides ongoing support for the youth health promoters and adult community health workers in mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, tobacco abuse, intimate partner violence and HIV prevention. Volunteers travel throughout the community and raise awareness through formal events, such as staffing a booth at PrideFest, to informal settings, like hanging out at a college student union to talk with students.

Raising awareness and changing health behaviors does not come easily, but the message can be accepted a lot more effectively when delivered by one’s peers. The agency has found that the program not only serves as an important way to impact public health, but also doubles as a leadership development opportunity. Nearly half of the agency’s staff initially started as program participants and worked their way up to become youth health promoters or adult community health workers.

Over the years, Diverse & Resilient has seen volunteers work anywhere from a one-time event to multiple programs over a number of years. No matter the length of the formal relationship with its volunteers, however, the agency believes it has created long-lasting public health ambassadors who impact the overall health of their community.

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Funding needs include:

$250 to support the work of five workers for a month

$5,000 to design and print health promotion materials

$34,000 to employ a coordinator to oversee the program

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