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Dornsife Faculty and Student Orchestrate Impactful Community Summit on Violence in Chicago

Annual Day of Action, founded in 2011 by Dornsife Assistant Professor Amy Carroll-Scott, Convenes Community Summit on Violence at 2015 APHA Annual Meeting

November 4, 2015

For the fourth consecutive year, the 2015 APHA Annual Meeting kicked off with a Day of Action on the Saturday before the meeting starts. This year’s event in Chicago was organized as a community summit on violence as a public health issue and, in line with the Annual Meeting's theme of Health in All Policies, a review of best practices to treat violence as a public health issue in all sectors and policies.

CHPPD 2015 DayOfActionHipHop The Day of Action partners with local community-based organizations and state and local agencies in the annual meeting's host city, in order to mobilize APHA members and shine the light of this national conference of public health professionals on a pressing local health need or policy priority.

Recognized as a 2015 APHA Best Practice, the Community Health Planning and Policy Development (CHPPD) Day of Action was founded in 2011 by Dornsife School of Public Health Assistant Professor of Community Health and Prevention Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH.

“The Day of Action gives APHA members a chance to get out of the convention center to volunteer to serve a local health need instead of just talking about it, and provides great opportunities for networking, mentorship and sharing of best practices around improving community health and achieving health equity,” said Dr. Carroll-Scott.

At the Chicago Day of Action Community Summit, the first panel, "Violence as a Public Health Issue," featured Marlita White, Director, Office of Violence Prevention at Chicago Department of Public Health, along with Cure Violence Founder, Gary Slutkin, MD, MPH and Executive Director, Mark Payne. This session focused primarily on shifting the conversation to viewing violence as a contagion, spreading like a disease and thus can be addressed using strategies learned from other public health issues. The second panel, "Best Practices to Reducing Violence in Chicago and Beyond" featured Walter Taylor with the Chicago's Teacher Union, Attorney M. Michele Day of the Resource Section Juvenile Justice and Protection Circuit Court of Cook County, and Bambade Abdullah-Shakoor, PhD of the Leadership Development Institute. The second half of the panel session showcased the prevention and best practices to combat violence through the use of restorative justice.

Rosie Mae Henson, MPH ‘16, helped organize this year's event with Dr. Carroll-Scott. Since the Day of Action aims to let the host city community lead in developing the program while outsiders offer assistance, Henson's role focused on supporting the planning committee. Working on the CHPPD Day of Action as part of her practicum experience, the project helped Henson develop her communication, community organizing, and health advocacy skills.

The Community Summit on Violence specifically aimed to shift the conversation regarding violence in Chicago and in general. "Being exposed to violence is like being exposed to any other infectious agent, and violence is perpetuated through a culture of contagion," Henson noted. The day ended with a call to turn the focus away from using punishment as a form of justice in Chicago and elsewhere, and instead implement policies that value therapy and restorative programs, valuing the idea of healing the environment rather than adding more violence.

The program was received well by those who were in attendance. One attendee, Ray L. Lewis of the Minnesota Public Health Association tweeted that it was a, “great summit on changing narrative about violence, restorative justice hubs and community.”  

Last year’s Day of Action in New Orleans focused on encouraging states to expand Medicaid or accept federal Medicaid financial support. The day started with attendees signing a letter supporting expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana . Nearly a year after the 2014 Annual Meeting, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act , and as a result, 31 states, Pennsylvania included, have been able to expand Medicaid. This expansion ensures coverage to 250,000 previously uninsured individuals and families.

Time will tell whether nationwide trends will come to reflect the Day of Action conversation on violence as a contagion, as the conversation shifted following the 2014 Day of Action.

If you would like to get involved in planning the 2016 Day of Action during the APHA Annual Meeting in Denver next year, contact Amy Carroll-Scott.