SW CHAPS is a growing grassroots network of community-based community health advocates and certified peers, serving the communities across the Southwest WA region, who come together to learn, support one another, and share ideas and best practices. SW CHAPS also facilitates input from the network to affect positive outcomes in the larger system of care. SW CHAPS brings together Southwest Washington’s Community Health Workers, Community Health Advocates, Certified Peer Specialists, Promotor/as de Salud, Community Health Representatives, Lay Health Workers, Parent Advocates, and Peer Mental Health Counselors who are representatives of people in underserved communities for shared learning and support. SW CHAPS invites experts from the various health care sectors to participate on panels, to make presentations, and to provide training for further development of the network members. SW CHAPS also provides awareness of trainings and events happening locally and regionally. SW CHAPS also elevates community voices and supports the strength and power of communities through efforts in local and statewide advocacy and by obtaining and delivering feedback to organizations and systems of health for more effective policies.
Community Health Worker/Community Health Advocate Program Background:
In the spring of 2014, HLC launched a neighborhood-based project to promote the factors that enhance individual and community health and well-being. Working in neighborhoods facing significant health disparities, we identified leaders who community members look to when they need help, and then recruited and trained these leaders to become CHW/CHAs. The CHW/CHAs work individually and neighborhood-wide to facilitate health improvements. A key feature of CHW/CHAs is that they are individuals who have a relationship with and understanding of the community in which they serve, often belonging to the same culture, speaking the same language, and having similar life experiences. Their expertise is in understanding their communities and building relationships with community members, rather than experience working within organizations or within systems. As a result, they are in a unique position to engage individuals and populations that professionals have difficulty reaching.
The CHW/CHAs inform HLC about the policy, systems, and environmental barriers that interfere with people’s health and suggest sustainable changes that would promote the health of all. CHW/CHAs also participate directly in the HLC governance structure. This direct line to the real-time needs of communities uniquely positions the HLC to ensure that their systems-level efforts remain responsive to the individuals and families who make up the most underserved communities in Southwest Washington. Read more about what we do here!
Rose Village Community Health Worker Team
The Rose Village Community Health Worker (CHW) team focuses efforts on the Vancouver, Washington neighborhood of Rose Village, which has approximately 5,000 individuals. Rose Village CHWs are trusted members of the community or people who have an unusually close relationship and understanding of the community, who share the same language, culture, and life experiences of community members. They partner with neighbors to build trust and advocate for others. The Rose Village team mission is to promote community wellness through empowering, educating, and connecting people to resources while listening to the voice of the community served. The CHW team is tasked with identifying the needs of the community as a starting point and the underpinning of their work. The Rose Village CHW team has historically focused on needs around affordable housing advocacy, community building, and access to healthy eating and active living opportunities for all community members. Local partners have included local businesses, Clark College, Council for the Homeless, Flash Love, Laundry Love, Lord’s Gym, Memorial Lutheran Church, Rose Village Neighborhood Association, Trinity Lutheran Church, Clark County Public Health, Washington Elementary, and Vancouver School District.
South Kelso Community Health Advocate Team
The South Kelso Community Health Advocate (CHA) team focuses efforts on the Cowlitz County, Washington neighborhood of South Kelso, which has approximately 5,231 individuals. South Kelso CHAs are trusted members of the community who have an unusually close relationship and share a common vision around identified, needed changes in the community. They partner with neighbors to build trust and advocate for others. The CHA team is tasked with identifying the needs of the community as a starting point and the underpinning of their work. The South Kelso team vision is: to live in a safe and united multicultural community that communicates a message of no racism. The team recognizes the barriers to achieving this vision include the lack of opportunity to connect with decision makers, lack of trust, racism, fear, and community cohesion. As a team, the CHAs partner with clinics (health professionals), schools, and churches to ensure the community is able to move towards their larger goals. The South Kelso team has historically focused on needs such as walkability and safe streets, access to healthy foods, immigrant rights, and advocating for access to quality services and community development. Local partners have included local businesses and decision makers, Cowlitz Health and Human Services, Cowlitz Community Health and Safety Network, Eagles Club, Family Health Center, Kelso High School, Love Overwhelming, Lower Columbia Community Action Program, NAMI, Sea Mar Behavioral Health, and Wallace Elementary. Click here to sign up for our newsletter and keep up-to-date with our organization!
Wahkiakum Youth Community Health Worker Team
The Wahkiakum team is focused on work within Wahkiakum High School. Made up of High School students, the Wahkiakum team works to connect fellow students to resources and identify and eliminate gaps within the school. The team is coached by a public health nurse who works at Wahkiakum Health and Human Services. Examples of the work that the team has done include getting mental health first aid training at the high school as well as advocating for and implementing a peer support reproductive health curriculum. The youth CHAs also connect their peers to community resources within the community.