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THE BEGINNING of a healthier society can be found on a bustling urban schoolyard on a Saturday, where residents take advantage of once-dormant facilities to enjoy safe outdoor play. It’s on display at a monthly gathering in a farming town, where members of a traditionally isolated culture are empowered to address the health needs of their peers. You’ll find it in churches, at ballgames and in meeting rooms, where a fun-filled strategy to incorporate fitness into people’s lives is becoming part of the routine; and in a low-income area, where teens are turning knowledge into action as they rally their community behind changes in the local food environment.
More than most professions, public health embraces community partnerships to improve the health of the population. These partnerships represent collaboration at its best: Public health professionals and academics bring their technical expertise, while often the community members provide guidance on priorities, as well as their on-the-ground knowledge of the approaches most likely to succeed. In many cases, the community is integral to the implementation of these initiatives – and given the community’s stake in the sustainability of any health-promoting strategy, public health experts must pass on their technical know-how so that the work flourishes long after they leave.
The articles from the Autumn 2013 UCLA Public Health Magazine showcase some of the community-based initiatives of Fielding School faculty, students, alumni and their community partners. As these accounts illustrate, our school can be found in a wide array of everyday settings – places where residents are sowing the seeds of better health at home, and sending ripples of change across the nation.