COMMUNITY ADVOCACY AND LEADERSHIP PROGRAM

FUNDING SOURCE: CDC 2009-2012

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Patricia Sharpe, PhD MPH

The Community Advocacy and Leadership Program (CALP) was a community capacity development program funded through the USC Prevention Research Center (USC PRC) grant and developed in partnership with Sumter County Active Lifestyles (SCAL), a community-based organization with a longstanding partnership with the USC PRC to conduct community-based participatory research. 

The purpose of CALP was to engage community advocates in a series of workshops with hands-on activities to enhance health advocacy and leadership knowledge and skills of grassroots community leaders who were interested in promoting health and quality of life in their local community.  The program had a particular focus on underserved or disadvantaged communities and interest in creating healthy community environments that support healthy and physically active lifestyles to prevent chronic disease; however, knowledge and skills obtained are relevant to any community health or social issue.  An external advisory committee and curriculum pretesting panel of community health practitioners and community health advocates provided input in the curriculum development.

The first cohort of CALP participants included representatives from three community groups in Sumter County, SC, who comprised the pilot implementation as well as one group each from Lee, Clarendon, Saluda and Orangeburg Counties. Community representatives attended an orientation meeting, a series of eight monthly half-day workshops and an evaluation session. Each community received a year of specialized guidance from a Community Development Specialist located in Sumter to carry out its chosen community improvement project.

During the workshops, communities selected a project to carry out, giving them the opportunity to apply newly acquired skills and apply for mini-grant funds up to $5000 to enhance the community environment for physical activity.  Five participating communities received mini-grants and obtained local matching funds to successfully complete playground and walking track project, while a sixth community successfully advocated with local government officials for an investment in upgrades to their community park. 

Evaluation of the pilot implementation data is ongoing, with future plans to refine the workshop curriculum, replicate the program with other coordinating community partners, and disseminate the CALP procedures and materials.