[The Miami Times]

Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City was selected to receive a $75,000 grant for its efforts to improve community health, from the BUILD Health Challenge, a national awards program.

Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City is a collaboration between the Florida Institute for Health Innovation (FIHI), the Miami Children’s Initiative, Catalyst Miami, Jackson Health Systems and the Miami-Dade County branch of the Florida Department of Health.

Liberty City is characterized by poverty, low educational attainment levels and violence, including disproportionately high rates of physical, sexual and child abuse. These attributes, in combination with the community’s lack of food access, lead to trauma, chronic stress, and mental and physical health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, sleeping disorders, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Working collaboratively with Liberty City neighborhood leaders, the group will address crime and violence in Liberty City as barriers to community health.

“Liberty City has had some of the worst health statistics in Miami-Dade County,” stated Cecilia Gutierrez, chief executive officer of the Miami Children’s Initiative, one of the members of the collaboration. “Fifty percent of Liberty City students say that they feel unsafe in and on their way to school.”

Miami Children’s Initiative will use its “block-by-block” strategy, working directly with Liberty City residents, to drive community change. Catalyst Miami will provide Liberty City parents with leadership training to build community capacity for resident-driven collective action. The Florida Institute for Health innovation will work to reduce infant mortality.

“I am pleased that public health and health care leaders have recognized the importance of working with trusted members of the community such as the Miami Children’s Initiative to address the neighborhood’s concern for public safety as a gateway to improved health,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson.

Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City is one of 18 American neighborhood projects selected by the BUILD Health Challenge to develop innovative approaches to improve community health. The BUILD Health Challenge encourages communities to build meaningful partnerships between hospitals and health systems, community-based organizations and local health departments to improve the health of local populations by addressing the factors that lead to poor health.

“It is time to combine resources and work with the community of Liberty City to stop the violence from within,” said Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime. “By focusing on the health effects of an unsafe community, we will engage a new set of partners with an interest in creating an environment where our children and families can thrive.”