2017 in Review
2017 has been a busy year for CHEER. We've accomplished a lot, and we have much more planned for next year. We've continued successful programs like Coffee Conversations and Health Care Access. We've also expanded our programs to include youth development, ensuring that our most vulnerable youth have the opportunity to succeed socially and academically and launching a healthy food access program. We have also sponsored or co-sponsored many community events, such as the Discover Long Branch 5K Run/Walk, a CHEER Health Fair, a neighborhood clean up, a neighborhood block party, the Takoma Park MLK Day celebration and day of service, a tree planting and more. Next year we will focus on community stability, working to help residents and businesses in Long Branch feel safe with the pending Purple Line construction.
CHEER’s mission is to provide people with the knowledge and ability to create healthy, thriving communities. It facilitates an inclusive, community driven process for addressing community-defined-priority goals, and utilizes holistic, data-driven, place-based strategies to fulfill those goals.
Lunch and Learn
Community Need: In the summertime many Takoma Park and Long Branch children from lower income and immigrant households cannot afford camp and lose access to the free and reduced meals to which they are entitled and without continuous academic activities they lose some of the math and reading abilities they learned during the school year.
CHEER Program: Lunch and Learn is a program pioneered in Takoma Park at Essex House by a CHEER trained member of the Essex House Leadership Team, Jackie Frazier. This summer enrichment program for school aged Takoma Park children who qualify for the Free and Reduced Meals program offers reading and math activities in a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment. The program offers daily bus transportation to and from the facility, free breakfast and lunch for all campers through the MCPS Summer Food Service Program, and recreational swim time for all participants. Middle and high school aged youth also serve as camp counselors to the younger kids.
Results: In 2017, 123 elementary school youth, and 58 high school aged Junior Leadership students participated in a camp held at Takoma Academy in Takoma Park from June 26 to August 2. 117 elementary age campers took pre- and post tests in math and reading. 97% maintained or improved their math scores from the beginning to the end of summer, and 93% maintained or improved their reading scores.
Community Need: Large numbers of Long Branch residents, especially low income and immigrants, are underrepresented, and underserved and lack the knowledge and ability to participate in community life.
CHEER Program: CHEER works with many of these families through a partnership with Linkages to Learning Program – YMCA Youth and Family Services, at four Takoma Park and Long Branch elementary schools at New Hampshire Estates, Rolling Terrace, JoAnn Leleck, and Montgomery Knolls elementary schools. These are participative and interactive spaces of dialogue and learning for elementary school parents. Topics are issues of greatest concern to parents. This program also supports a leadership development group that plans community activities.
Results: From July 2016 to July 2017 CHEER conducted education workshops and conversation with low income families at four elementary schools in Long Branch on topics such as tenant rights, immigrant rights, and group participation. CHEER conducted 19 events involving 271 people. These events included 3 community led events: a school cleanup day, a tree planting event, and a new walking club.
Long Branch Healthy Food Access Program
Community Need: Takoma Park (20912 zip code) has one of the highest hospital utilization rates for diabetes in the County and Long Branch is a food security “hot spot” according to the Montgomery County Food Council. Improving access to healthy food is a major goal for improving health and well being in our community.
CHEER Program: In June of 2017, CHEER launched the Long Branch Healthy Food Access Program. With funding from the Healthcare Initiative Foundation and Adventist Healthcare, CHEER convened a partnership with health care providers, Washington Adventist Hospital and Mobile Med, and local food providers, Manna Food Center, and Crossroads Community Food Network to establish a bi-directional referral system. In this program, food insecure people with diabetes get 3 months of weekly distributions of fresh produce and Long Branch and Takoma Park food recipients with diabetes get primary medical care. During the three months of the active intervention, participants meet regularly with CHEER community health workers who provide personal support for receiving and using the food to improve their health. The program includes cooking demonstrations, and nutrition education.
Results: Preliminary results from the first 3 month cohort shows that 57% of the participants increased their fruit and vegetable consumption, 64% of obese and overweight participants lost weight, an average of 5.5 pounds, 71% improved blood glucose control, and almost half improved their self-reported health status.
Health Access and ACA Enrollment
Community Need: The diverse population of Long Branch and Takoma Park includes many low income and immigrant families that have limited access to health care, health insurance and other basic needs.
CHEER Program: CHEER employs community health workers and community outreach specialists to conduct outreach to connect people to health and wellness resources, including making appointments for uninsured people in need of medical care to Montgomery County safety net clinics. We are also a State certified Application Counselor Sponsoring Entity that allows CHEER’s trained application counselors to enroll people in Medicaid or Qualified Health Plans through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.
Results: In fiscal year 2017, CHEER’s community outreach specialists conducted health and wellness outreach to 2,121 people in the community. 653 were referred to community health and wellness resources. From October 2016 to September 2017 CHEER’s application counselors enrolled 304 households, (588 people) in Medicaid or qualified health plans.