2023: Year in Review

Jean Appolon and the Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) education team leading a Haitian Folkloric dance class at a JAE 2022 partner site, Kalalu-Danza in the Dominican Republic
Jean Appolon and the Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) education team leading a Haitian Folkloric dance class at a JAE 2022 partner site, Kalalu-Danza in the Dominican Republic

The HPRC team is excited to share this reflection on all our successes in 2023. From highlighting our research in a poster for APHA’s Annual Meeting to re-releasing the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0 with a variety of new data and information to collaborating with a local contemporary dance company to enhance their staff’s research skills to hosting the 11th cohort of emerging health leaders, this year was full of accomplishments for our team! Read on to learn more about our 2023 highlights, presented within the four key areas in which our Center is focused. Learn more about our Center aims here.

Collaborate with Partners to Identify Evidence-Based Interventions

APHA Poster Highlights Cost-Effective Solutions to Prevent Chronic Disease in Boston, MA

Mary Bovenzi of the Boston Public Health Commission presenting a poster about the Massachusetts-CHOICES project at the 2023 American Public Health Association's annual meeting
Mary Bovenzi, Director of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Boston Public Health Commission, presenting a poster at the 2023 American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in November

At the 2023 American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in November, Mary Bovenzi, Director of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Boston Public Health Commission, presented a poster highlighting key findings from the first three years of our partnership through the Massachusetts-CHOICES project.

The poster emphasized the critical role of resource allocation in addressing chronic diseases, a challenge that many health departments face. The BPHC and HPRC CHOICES teams applied a cost-effectiveness analysis framework to model the potential outcomes of various policies and programs to improve child health over a 10-year period. These projections demonstrated significant impact, reaching between 3,320 to 29,400 children per strategy over 10 years, with an average annual cost ranging from $7.60 to $540 per child. Additionally, all projected policies and programs were deemed cost-effective, with a potential to improve health equity by reaching those with the greatest needs for improved nutrition and physical activity.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

Through this project, the BPHC team strengthened partnerships with state and local organizations, including early education and care programs, public schools, and afterschool programs. The use of cost-effectiveness analysis allowed the BPHC team to align its goals with available resources, prioritizing strategies that are both effective and equitable. Using cost-effectiveness analysis is crucial for prioritizing prevention policies and programs that offer good value for money, ultimately creating healthier and more equitable communities.

Learn more about the five policies and programs that BPHC modeled and our partnership here!

Poster citation:
Bovenzi M, Carter S, Clarke J, Reiner JF, Barrett JL, Bolton A, McCulloch SM, Garrone ME, Cradock AL, Gortmaker SL. Building skills to implement community-based solutions to prevent chronic disease using cost-effectiveness analysis with interdisciplinary partners: Learnings from Boston, MA. Poster presented at: American Public Health Association Annual Meeting; November 2023; Atlanta, GA.

Promote Healthy Weight, Nutrition, Physical Activity, & Health Equity

Guide Planning & Prioritization to Invest Responsibly in Policies & Programs to Improve Child Health Using the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0
One of our key accomplishments in 2023 was the release of the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0, a tool for exploring and comparing effective strategies to improve child health.

The HPRC CHOICES team was thrilled to announce the launch of the second iteration of this tool, marking a significant evolution from its original release in 2019. This new version not only includes more policies and programs for comparison, but also offers more detailed projections of national population reach, health impact, implementation costs, and cost-effectiveness. Notably, this updated version provides intricate insights into the costs of individual strategies and offers a deeper understanding of their potential effects on health equity.

As part of this re-release, we’ve now made several reports available that describe the projected national population reach, impact on health and health equity, implementation costs, and cost-effectiveness for each strategy. These reports are accessible both with the Kit itself and via the CHOICES Resource Library. Browse the reports here!

Investing responsibly matters now more than ever – and the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0 is a timely resource to guide planning and prioritization of cost-effective policies and programs that have strong evidence that they can make a difference in promoting healthy weight, nutrition, physical activity, and health equity. The data and insights available through this tool can equip decision-makers with comprehensive information to ensure judicious investments.

Offer Resources & Training Opportunities

Supporting Jean Appolon Expressions’ Fusion of Dance and Wellbeing

Jean Appolon and the Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) education team leading a Haitian Folkloric dance class at a JAE 2022 partner site, Kalalu-Danza in the Dominican Republic
Jean Appolon and the Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) education team leading a Haitian Folkloric dance class at a JAE 2022 partner site, Kalalu-Danza in the Dominican Republic

The HPRC strives to meet the needs of our community partners and the people they serve. Over the past few years, we’ve been offering one-on-one technical assistance to support planning, evaluation, communications, and grant writing activities focused on nutrition and physical activity topics.

This past spring, the HPRC team began a partnership with staff at Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE), a contemporary dance company that is deeply rooted in Haitian-folkloric culture that celebrates, nurtures, and empowers a global community. Thanks to an introduction through HPRC Community Advisory Board co-chair, Nineequa Blanding, HPRC team members Bekka Lee, Kamini Mallick, Stephanie McCulloch, and Raffi Pontes (SBS MPH ’23) partnered with JAE staff to conduct a literature review to explore evidence demonstrating the health benefits of dance in addition to developing a survey to collect data from dancers on physical and mental impacts they experience from dance.

The partnership also yielded the development of guidance for mapping the relationships between dancers and using Photovoice. Photovoice is a method using images to bring light to a specific issue and empowers participants to be involved in the solution-building process in their own communities. JAE staff fielded the survey, relationship mapping, and Photovoice methods at the JAE Summer Dance Institutes (SDI) in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in Summer 2023. The aim of this process was to amplify the profound impact of the program on students’ mental and physical health. Findings will be included in the organization’s annual report and future fundraising campaigns. This fall, two JAE staff members, Bisi Xotyeni and Tammi Fedestin, joined our 2023 cohort of Leaders in Health where they learned to situate these evaluation methods in the broader context of public health.

We look forward to continuing to support other community organizations in the future!

New Resources
This year, we published a variety of new resources, tools, and peer-reviewed publications that align with our Center’s Priority Areas.

Build Capacity for Conducting Community-Engaged Research

Celebrating the 11th Leaders in Health 2023 Cohort
This fall, we held the 11th cohort of participants representing a broad range of organizations from throughout the state of Massachusetts.

This fall, we hosted the 11th cohort of Leaders in Health, our community training program that helps build the capacity of our community partners by providing participants with an introduction to public health, including the fundamentals of community-based participatory research and program design and evaluation. Nine participants from throughout the state of Massachusetts joined, representing organizations that focus on a range of topics, including oral health, mental health, nutrition and physical activity, and others. The program took place from September through November, spanning eight weeks, featuring a hybrid approach of virtual and in-person learning sessions. Learn more about our Leaders in Health program here!

Leaders in Health Alumnus on GBH’s All Things Considered
A member of the 11th cohort of Leaders in Health and founder of PureSpark, Nieisha Deed, recently spoke with GBH’s All Things Considered host Judie Yuill about her personal experiences with mental health care and fostering better care and mental wellness within the Black community.

PureSpark is committed to tackling disparities in mental health care within the Greater Boston area and pioneered the state’s inaugural wellness directory tailored for Black individuals. Through this week, Nieisha’s mission is to reduce stigma around seeking mental health support and empower individuals to develop coping mechanisms.

Five Questions with Leaders in Health Alumni
We’re excited to regularly feature Leaders in Health alumni both in our quarterly updates and on the Leaders in Health page to highlight the successes that they accomplished in their cohort and beyond in their daily work.

Headshot of Adriana Tejada

Adriana Tejada

Health Communications Manager at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health | MPH Candidate at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health

Adriana participated in the 2021 Leaders in Health Cohort and answered five questions about her experience and what she’s up to now.

View our quarterly news stories from 2023