Creating a Healthy Rancho Cucamonga – for this generation and the next

Jul. 31, 2019

Hope Velarde

rancho cucamonga

Rancho Cucamonga is a thriving city, rich in culture and diversity. We’re proud of all that the city has to offer our growing community and we take our responsibility seriously to provide all residents with the opportunity to achieve their full potential. That’s why our city has made a new commitment to work even closer with our residents to create a culture where everyone has the same opportunity to live a healthy life.

The key to improving community health? Engage the community

At the City of Rancho Cucamonga, we are dedicated to creating a healthy community for this generation and the next. We realized that in order to better meet our commitment, we needed a comprehensive approach to better understand the health and well-being of our city as well as the specific challenges or barriers each community and each neighborhood may face. In response, we launched Healthy RC in 2008, our flagship initiative to improve health equity and community wellness by involving community participation and creating collaborative partnerships to change policies and programs.

At the heart of Healthy RC, and the key to the program’s sustainability, is intentional, authentic, and deep community engagement – especially in our disadvantaged neighborhoods struggling with low socioeconomic status and our minority communities. Two important partnerships have been with the Campeones para la Comunidad (Community Champions) and Healthy RC Youth Leaders programs. Both programs provide leadership development, build capacity, and empower historically underrepresented groups, Spanish-speakers and teens respectively. These residents have become key stakeholders, lending their voices to help the City focus their solutions on the problems that will have the greatest impact on community health such as safer streets, healthy food access, and reducing e-cigarette use in teens. The Community Champions conducted sidewalk audits and worked with City Council to approve new infrastructure and the Healthy RC Youth Leaders helped shape an e-cigarette policy initiative, recently passed by City Council, through gathering data from their peers.

Capturing well-being in Rancho Cucamonga

Another key element of our approach to improving health equity is to use data to help us pinpoint the greatest challenges and help us target our resources better.

This summer, we disseminated our Quality of Life survey to gather data regarding the well-being of our community and assess their needs.

The Dashboard has helped us align our data collection with the development of our Community Engagement policy. Life expectancy and socioeconomic metrics, including children in poverty, high school graduation, racial/ethnic diversity, and income inequality have provided an essential snapshot of what our community looks like. The visualizations on the site have helped us better engage underrepresented groups to make sure they are not overlooked. We took a look at the Dashboard’s Compare Metrics feature to better understand the relationships between life expectancy and children in poverty.

This data identified the neighborhoods that may require different approaches to data collection in order to better address these health determinants and outcomes as a community. Whether that means providing the survey in a different language or providing different incentives to fit the needs of the community, we are using data to tailor our approaches to meet the community where they are at.

The City will then analyze the results of the survey – what are the community health outcomes, what disparities exist. However, the City will also analyze who did and did not participate, what neighborhoods are they from, what are their identities – to guide future equitable engagement strategies and programs, addressing areas such as community connectedness and mental health, and to inform the development of the Community Engagement policy and toolkit.

Formalizing our commitment to equity

To help formalize our commitment to equitable community engagement, we are in the process of developing a Community Engagement policy with a Health Equity Framework that will be adopted by City Council and incorporated into all departmental practices by March 2020. To ensure the success of the policy, the City will create a toolkit with best practices to assist in implementing equitable engagement with communities and provide key direction to prioritize the interest of marginalized groups and facilitate interactions between agency staff and diverse stakeholders.

As a city, we’ve learned to adapt to best meet the needs of our ever-evolving community that is becoming richer in its mix of ethnicities and cultures. This diversifying population growth requires government agencies, stakeholders, and communities to work together to build a city that provides ALL Rancho Cucamonga residents the opportunity to be heard and ultimately achieve their full health potential for this generation and the next.

Hope Velarde is a Management Analyst for Healthy RC at the City of Rancho Cucamonga.

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