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Advancing Arts & Culture in Newport County

The Newport Health Equity Zone Project (HEZ)

Newport Home Equity ZoneThe Newport Health Equity Zone (HEZ) is about healthy people and places. It’s about working together to make where we live a place that is good for us, and a place that we feel good about. It’s a place where everyone has a fair opportunity to live healthy and thrive.

The Newport Health Equity Zone project will take a close look at 6 areas of community life that promote good health. It will find out what our neighborhoods have, and what our neighborhoods are missing. Then, it will create a plan of action, and make things happen! Arts and Culture are one of the working groups led by the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County.

Among many other outcomes, involvement in the arts has been shown to abate stress and enhance immune function, develop communication and self-expression skills, and reduce delinquency and neighborhood crime.

In the first year of this project, members of the Arts & Culture working group are interested in answering:
• What is the creative density of the North End and Broadway communities in Newport?
• Do residents all have a shared definition of “health”, “art”, and “culture”?
• What is the Art curriculum for school-aged children living in these two communities?
• What is the literacy rate within the Health Equity Zone?
• What percentage of residents participate in the arts, and how does this compare to the national average?

Feb 6, 2016: Envisioning Day
Envision Newport has surveyed over 500 residents about some of the most pressing issues in our community. Envisioning Day continued to get feedback from the community during a creativity lab open to the public.

ACA HEZ blog: Thursday Thoughts: An art-full life
Newport Health Equity Zone One Pager:
Learn more about the Newport Health Equity Zone’s initiative.

Link to Newport Health Equity Zone (HEZ) website.

THE ROLE THE ARTS PLAY IN COMMUNITY GROWTH AND VITALITY – EVIDENCE
The arts contribute to community vitality. A growing body of research points to the arts as an engine for civic renewal. Citizen engagement in the arts creates a strong shared identity and instills pride in a state’s cultural heritage. (Sources: The Community Arts Network; Social Impact of the Arts Project / The Reinvestment Fund; The Urban Institute)

The arts bring public spaces to life. Artworks and arts activities make public spaces livable, attractive and distinctive, engaging residents in the creation of welcoming and sustainable places to live, work, play and raise families. (Sources: The Community Arts Network; Social Impact of the Arts Project / The Reinvestment Fund)

The arts foster civic participation and a strong democracy. The arts enhance our ability to illustrate viewpoints, to dramatize issues, to inspire action and to see things through the eyes of others—all necessary components of a thriving democracy. Americans who engage in the arts are more likely to engage in other aspects of community life, such as voting and volunteering. The arts also enhance civic dialogue, capturing the American experience and giving voice to our joys and aspirations and the conscience of our communities. (Sources: National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts)

The arts contribute to wellness and healthy aging. According to a national medical study, seniors who participate regularly in the arts report better health, fewer doctor’s visits, less medication usage, less dementia, better mental health and higher rates of social engagement. (Sources: George Washington University Center on Aging; National Endowment for the Arts)

The arts are a communications asset in a global society. The arts build bridges among people. They facilitate intercultural understanding and provide a common lexicon for building relationships in an increasingly diverse and global society. (Sources: Social Impact of the Arts Project / The Reinvestment Fund; National Governors Association)

The arts contribute to collective efficacy. Research has shown that the arts build resiliency, foster social capital, strengthen interpersonal ties and empower residents, all of which nurture the collective efficacy of a community to address major problems, including poverty. (Sources: Social Impact of the Arts Project / The Reinvestment Fund; John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Americans for the Arts)

IN THE PRESS
Newport Patch: Group focus Newport’s health equity gap
Newport This Week: Florence Gray Center Open House
Mercury: Newport Health Equity Zone to launch
NewportRI.com: How two Newport neighborhoods compare
Engage Newport: The Newport Health Equity Zone Project

LAUNCH EVENT
Newport Daily News: Health Equity Zone launched. Effort will focus on improving health of the community
By Sean Flynn

NEWPORT, SEPT 24, 2015 — More than 50 people turned out Wednesday evening to launch the new Newport Health Equity Zone Collaborative at a meeting in the Florence Gray Center that was informational and allowed people from the many different organizations involved in the project to socialize.

The lead agency for the cooperative effort is the Women’s Resource Center of Newport and Bristol Counties and the agency’s executive director, Lori N. DiPersio, welcomed the guests.

“We will be bringing together a lot of people in the community, especially in the north end and the Broadway area,” she said.

The state Department of Health earlier this year approved a $235,000 “Health Equity Zone Grant” for the project, which targets particular north end and Broadway census tracts. Additional funding could be awarded for up to four years.

Jessica Walsh, the Women’s Resource Center’s director of prevention, presented the project and explained how the organizations will be involved. She was assisted by Olivia Kachingwe, the new Health Equity Zone coordinator.

“This is a citywide coalition to help people to live the healthiest lives they can,” Walsh said. “Place-based health grants are unusual. Most grants are disease-based.”

One of goals of the project is to answer a series of questions such as, “How do you make environments where making healthy choices is the default?” Walsh said.

Core groups will form working groups to meet with residents in different sectors of community life…. They will be conducting needs assessments to determine what residents want from the project. This will be done initially through surveys and focus groups.

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