Included here are excerpts of the report compiled by CANDO Houston on their leadership and advocacy training offered in the summer of 2015 in the Near Northside.
In the Summer of 2015, CANDO Houston (CDH) completed its 7th implementation of the Community Leadership and Advocacy Training with community members in the Near Northside of Houston, Texas at Jeff Davis High School. This training was the 2nd implementation to occur in the Near Northside (by CDH) and was funded by Avenue CDC to empower community members and organizations to develop leaders and advocates. Through collaboration and implementation of acquired leadership and advocacy skills, residents and other stakeholders are working to increase healthy eating and active living opportunities by creating and advocating for relevant environmental and policy change.
A diverse group of residents and stakeholders of Near Northside met at Jeff Davis High School to receive the Leadership and Advocacy training and to develop a team priority, which was to increase safety in and around Moody Park and Irvington Park due to the lack of lighting and poor sidewalk maintenance. The issues of poor lighting, sidewalk maintenance, and existing park improvements and expansions were included as strategies and projects to work towards in the Northside Quality of Life Agreement (LISC, 2010; instituteccd.org). The purpose for focusing on these parks was to create access to safe opportunities for physical activity and other amenities offered at these sites.
A diverse group of community members and organizations engaged in CDH’s Community Leadership and Advocacy Training Program as a participant or as a partner and/or resource to enhance the implementation of the training. A total of 12 residents from the Near Northside participated in the training. One of CDH’s partners, the City of Houston Health Department, served as a direct resource for participants and provided valuable information related to the group’s focus area and applicable departments within the City of Houston
Environmental or Policy Focus Area
Leading up to Session 6 of the training, participants worked together to identify key environmental or policy focus areas of interest. During Session 3, four major risk areas surfaced during the group’s discussion: 1) inappropriate youth activity and behavior at a local McDonald’s, 2) a large amount of stray dogs at McKee Street and B Campbell Street, 3) students consistently leaving campus to go to Carnegie Library and students fighting at the same location, and 4) security issues at the Salvation Army, especially considering the number of homeless individuals outside of this location. Participants also selected a focus area, which was to increase safety in the Near Northside and to create access to healthy food and physical activity by addressing safety issues around McDonald’s and Carnegie library. During session 3 participants gained knowledge of how to focus advocacy efforts on the root causes of issues and explored feasible solutions. Using community-level data obtained by participants, a consensus was developed for the team’s focus area.
Increasing safety in and around Moody Park and Irvington Park by improving lighting and sidewalks to create access to healthy food and physical activity.
The results of this class lead the GO Safety Team to conduct a Safety Audit of Irvington Park in November of 2015. GO Safety is continuing to work on improving the appearance of safety at Irvington Park.