Columbia Unviversity - Mailman School Public Health - Injury Free Coalition for Kids

Reducing injury in low income neighborhoods by environmental intervention

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Columbia Unviversity - Mailman School Public Health - Injury Free Coalition for Kids

New York, New York, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

US cities have pockets of economic despair where children and families suffer from high injury rates, violence, poor environments, and poor health. The Harlem Hospital Injury Prevention Program, funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, reduced major injury to Harlem children by 60% and as Injury Free was disseminated to 40 US Trauma Centers. The Harlem model: A: Analyze the data, B: Build a coalition, C: Communicate the problem, D: Develop interventions with the coalition, E: Evaluate the results which lead to a safer community.In Harlem, building playgrounds to keep children safe, replacing vacant lots with gardens, working with the District Attorney to remove drug dealers, providing free safety equipment to families, and developing mentored youth programs, led to injury reduction. Playgrounds were a catalyst to building trust and relationships between families, public officials, hospital staff and community advocates. This project plans to increase these results nationally in stressed neighborhoods.

Problem Statement

Families living in economically stressed communities have been shown to be at increased risk of poor health, violence, depression and their children at increased risk of injury. Trauma Centers and their staff are exposed to this burden of injury on a daily basis and are motivated to give back to make their communities safer and healthier. For over 20 years Injury Free sites have documented the burden of injury in poor neighborhoods and worked together to find solutions to injuries from fire, bike and car crashes, guns, falls, poisoning, unsafe sleep, unsafe homes. Safe and healthy environments can be established in neglected neighborhoods in American cities, which have not received much attention from either elected officials or from funders.Although sites have built playgrounds with positive results little funding is available to continue community improvement with landscaping, clearing vacant lots, building school and park playgrounds, and addressing abandoned buildings. Trauma Center Hospitals have a trauma surveillance system and that can identify areas of increased injuries and their hospitals develop community health profiles identifying neighborhoods in need. Physicians who treat children with injury on a daily basis have unusual access to elected officials and can build strong coalitions, and with proper funding change the inequities occurring in the nation's poorest neighborhoods. They can be change agents in their cities. Demonstrating that change is possible can motivate continued intervention and improvement.

Solution Overview

Adding environmental improvement with an increased focus on injury prevention in stressed neighborhoods at Injury Free sites will decrease injury and violence as well as improve health and the sense of wellbeing.Using our injury prevention template we will address the problems seen in economically stressed neighborhoods: A: Assess injury rates and develop other data sources from the schools, police and fire departments. B: Build a larger coalition to include community organizations, parents, school staff, faith community, Departments of Parks, Health, Housing, Transportation, Fire, Police, and elected officials. C: Communicate the identified problems widely to the community and the coalition, D: Design interventions to correct both safety and environmental hazards. E: Evaluate the intervention over five years using all available data sources. Trauma Center staff are capable of making a major impact on stressed neighborhoods and promoting the process nationally. Our society will benefit as we demonstrate how to solve the problems of our neglected communities across the United States.

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Project Funders

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 1988 - 2019
  • Allstate Foundation 1999 - 2013
  • Bloomberg Foundation 2012 - 2018

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