In partnership with Georgians for a Healthy Future, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc., Georgia Watch officially kicked off Community Voices for Health—Georgia to promote stronger community engagement in policy decisions affecting the health of Georgians. Supported with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this multi-year project that started in February 2020 specifically aims to equip Community Health Workers ("CHWs") with the tools they need to mobilize their communities and engage in effective policy advocacy.
When COVID-19 swept the world in early March 2020, Community Voices for Health—Georgia recognized the need to adjust our priorities to be more responsive to the unprecedented emergency. In fact, the public health crisis highlighted the critical urgency of the project's aim to strengthen CHWs' capacity to advocate for policy solutions in their communities. As a first step in June 2020, we launched the Advocates for Change board ("Board"), comprised of five CHWs from around the state. The dedicated members of the Board hail from Atlanta, Macon, Columbus, Central Georgia, and Albany. Over the past eleven months, they have provided invaluable expertise supporting our data collection efforts and the development of a civic advocacy skills training for CHWs.
As we prepare to launch the "Civic Advocacy, Leadership, and Engagement" training for CHWs after a successful pilot last month, we are more excited than ever about the progress we have made during this extraordinary time in our state. Never before has the importance of health equity and the need to organize communities around policy improvements in healthcare been more evident! We are looking forward to working with CHWs and partner organizations as we continue this effort to promote a culture of health in Georgia.