On July 12th, 2019, Healthy African American Families-II (HAAF-II) and the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP), continued the legacy of Dr. Loretta Jones by hosting “Communities for Wellness Equity (C4WE): Community Voices.” Dr. Loretta Jones was the founder of HAAF-II, civil rights activists, health policy advocate, and mentor for many who addressed health equities through community-academic partnerships. Dr. Jones pioneered the three-stage model of Community Partnered Participatory Research (CPPR) of Vision (planning), Valley (main work) and Victory (celebration and impact), as a more equitable and meaningful way for academic medical research to connect and work with communities.1 She inspired the vision to use CPPR to engage community in a conversation about the social determinants of health.

According to the World Health Organization, social determinants of health are “circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness.”2 They have been shown to impact health outcomes and are largely responsible for inequity in health status. Despite the interest among healthcare, researchers, and policy makers to address social determinants of health, there have been limited efforts to hear and incorporate community voice into the development of new initiatives. To address this gap, “C4WE: Community Voices” conference at the Baldwin Hills Mall was co-sponsored by UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute and Community Engagement Research Program (CTSI/CERP). It was created to stimulate a two-way discussion that amplified the voice of South Los Angeles community members to inform healthcare providers, researchers and policy makers about their priority issues impacting their health and wellness.

With over 175 South Los Angeles individuals from different backgrounds, the conference served as a catalyst to invite community to be their own advocates for change. Despite the diversity of backgrounds, participants shared that their “concerns were of one accord… that revealed… similar struggles and desires for change.” Stories shared amongst the group ranged from gentrification to civic engagement to racism as the underlying cause of their circumstances. In addition, over 20 different community-based organizations addressing different social determinants of health such as transportation, legal assistance and wellness shared resources with participants. Ultimately, participants identified four priority issues for which action-oriented multi-stakeholder work groups will be formed to address: 1) housing, 2) education, 3) violence, trauma, and safety, and 4) nutrition and food security. These workgroups will work together to develop approaches to enhance existing community programs, create new interventions and policies, and build networks to address social determinants of health impacting South Los Angeles.

Bringing Dr. Jones’ vision to life with C4WE combined all three stages of CPPR, celebrated community strengths and built connections across all sectors. We are so grateful to the South Los Angeles community for sharing their voice, and look forward to future partnered planning, work and celebration for health equity!

If interested in getting involved in next steps, please contact academic lead, Etsemaye Agonafer ([email protected]) and community leads, Felica Jones ([email protected]) and Andrea Jones ([email protected]).