The Community Voices program incorporates arts, education, research and service. Students are exposed to a curriculum taught by experts in health, photography, journalism, and community advocacy and are employed in community health centers(CHCs). Students are trained in “Photovoice”,a community-based participatory research method that incorporates photography, writing and social action, to document their experiences in the community and in the CHCs. Students put together their photographs, writing and research into a final collective photo essay, which is part of an ongoing public outreach project.
Community Voices not only educates students about health disparities, but also encourages and empowers students - as community members, as future health care workers, as researchers - to become catalysts of social change. Students’ sense of creativity and ownership over their photo essay allows them to become personally invested in tackling the issues surrounding health disparities.
CCHERS, in partnership with the Health Careers Academy (HCa), Boston Area Health Education Center (BAHEC) and member artists of ACT (Arts, Culture, Trade) Roxbury received funding from Johnson & Johnson and the Society for the Arts in Healthcare to develop the Community Voices project in the fall of 2006. Though many health care facilities use the arts in clinical or therapeutic capacities (e.g. dance therapy, art therapy), this program is one of the few that incorporates arts into health care advocacy or health systems reform. Students began the first summer program in July 2007, developing the project “Community Voices: A Photo Essay of Health Disparities in Roxbury.”
In 2008, the number of students in Community Voices more than tripled thanks to additional support and partnership from Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), Partners HealthCare, Citizen’s Bank, Northeastern University, the Roxbury Trust Fund, and MassDevelopment. The 2008 students completed both a photo essay and an oral history project on health disparities in their communities. They unveiled their work at a formal reception October 21st and their photo essay is currently on tour across the state and region.
Community Voices is a program of the Center for Community Health Education, Research and Service, Inc. that employs high school students interested in health to develop a photo essay on racial and ethnic health disparities in the Boston community. To many, the leading civil rights issue in 21st century America is the elimination of persistent disparities in health of racial and ethnic minorities by ensuring health access, equity and justice. The mayor of Boston has identified health disparities as the most pressing health issue in the city, and has highlighted the need for increased public awareness of health disparities and for greater efforts in diversifying the healthcare workforce.
Community Voices works to eliminate health disparities with three main goals:
Address and increase awareness of persistent racial and ethnic health disparities
Encourage students of color to pursue health careers and research
Develop the use of Photovoice in public health research, practice and policy