Healthy Chicago Lawn is a community-based coalition working to improve the overall quality of life and well-being of the Chicago Lawn community area. The group acts as a neighborhood council member of the Chicago Food Policy Council and will be starting up a community garden in Marquette Park this year.
Starting in April of 2004, Healthy Chicago Lawn undertook a planning process to identify resources and gaps in the community. Based on community members’ experiences, data that describe the community and the availability of local resources, the coalition identified key areas of concern. Coalition members developed strategies to address the identified issues and work together to support collaborative efforts that seek to improve the overall quality of life and well-being of Chicago Lawn.
In order to achieve the strategic goals that Healthy Chicago Lawn coalition members developed, the coalition formed four action groups, each focused on one priority area. Each action group developed a set of activities designed to address the identified issues and is currently working on the implementation of these activities.
- Awareness and Access to Comprehensive Health Services
- Healthy Lifestyles and Behaviors
- Community and Civic Engagement
Awareness and Access to Comprehensive Health Services
The Healthy Chicago Lawn coalition found not only a lack of available resources in our community, but also a lack of awareness of what is in fact available, both on the part of community members and service providers. The work of this action group aims to increase knowledge of available resources, decrease barriers to accessing health services, and enhance collaboration among service providers. To this end the group is working on 3 activities:
- Compiling a resource guide for health care/social service providers and residents with comprehensive health care information
- A discussion series among area providers for networking and education
- Targeted outreach for public benefit programs such as Kid Care
Healthy Lifestyles and Behaviors
One of the main priorities of this group is to address the availability of healthy foods in the Chicago Lawn community. Many community members have limited access to grocery stores and do a large portion of their shopping in corner stores. The Healthy Lifestyles and Behaviors group is working with local businesses to provide nutrition information in corner stores as well as sampling of produce, in order to increase both the availability of produce in these stores and the demand from community residents. In addition to promoting healthy eating, the group is working to support teachers and parents through a speaker series in community meetings.