Solutions-driven collaboration on Chicago’s West Side
// By Jacqueline Brennan
For people from across sectors gathering to discuss social issues this November, Darlene Hightower can’t think of a better meeting place than Chicago – the city she loves, and also where she’s engaged in collaborative effort to address the health and social challenges of the city’s West Side.
Darlene, vice president of community health equity at Rush University Medical Center, is presenting the Upswell workshop, “Closing the Death Gap on Chicago’s West Side” (learn more about Darlene). The hospital is part of West Side United, a collaborative focused on improving health and economic vitality on the West Side.
The collaborative aims to eliminate health disparities in the West Side’s 10 neighborhoods, “specifically the 16-year life expectancy gap between Chicago’s Loop area and several of our West Side neighborhoods,” according to Darlene.
“This is one of, if not the largest collaboratives in the country in this healthcare space. It is place-based, but it’s also multi-sector. So, we’ve got many folks at the table – from residents, to community-based organizations, hospitals, government – everyone is coming together to solve this healthcare crisis.”
The interactive workshop will highlight potential solutions to the life expectancy gap. “We’ll look at things like improved quality education, improved access to jobs, of course access to quality healthcare, but also improved physical environments within neighborhoods, like walkability and access to grocery stores. We’re really solutions-driven, so we’ll talk about how we are creating positive change in these neighborhoods,” she adds.
The topic may be heavy, but Darlene promises the knowledge you’ll gain will be presented in an engaging manner that will include the Root Learning Map© experience. You’ll also learn how you can catalyze cross-sector change in your community.
“We’re going to talk about this work in a really interactive and fun way that highlights not just the challenges in these neighborhoods, but also the solutions and assets that are available in these communities.”
Closing the Death Gap on Chicago’s West Side is happening Wednesday, November 13 from 9:30 – 10:45am.