Thursday, February 2, 2012

Manistee PhotoVoice

What would you do if someone handed you a camera and asked you to go out and take pictures of what keeps you from being healthy? That is just what happened with a group of seven WISEWOMAN participants in Manistee County. Using an evidence based program called PhotoVoice developed at the University of Michigan, we gave the women each a camera and said, “go take pictures of what keeps you from being healthy.”

Before the women ever took the first picture, Cheryl Griffin, the WISEWOMAN Lifestyle Counselor in Manistee County met with the Norman Township Board and the Healthy Manistee Coalition. Both groups agreed to participate in the process by viewing the final video and talking about what they could do to address any barriers identified.

A local photographer worked with the seven women to teach them how to use their cameras. They also learned the elements of taking a good picture. That first meeting was a chance for them to get to know each other. When they left that day, they were on a mission.

A few weeks later, they gathered again to review and discuss their photographs. As a group, they talked about which photos captured the barriers to being healthy. They talked about themes they saw running through their pictures, and identified key points they wanted to address in the slide show.

With a little help from the Lifestyle Counselor and some of the folks at the state WISEWOMAN program, the women created a video slide show complete with narration and music.

The women presented the video to the Norman Township Board and to the Healthy Manistee Coalition. In both cases, it set the stage for some great dialog about ways to address the barriers the women identified. That was in October. This month (February), we plan to conduct interviews with some of the board and coalition members who saw the video. We want to find out what has happened since those meetings in October.

One outcome is already apparent. The women who participated have become more active in their communities. They have started taking leadership roles in community events. PhotoVoice taught them how they could get involved to help make their communities more healthy. Now that they have experienced community mobilization, there is no stopping them!

Take a look at the video. We posted it on YouTube, so everyone would have easy access to it. You can find it here at the Michigan WISEWOMAN channel.

WISEWOMAN PhotoVoice Group

Friday, January 27, 2012

Life Happens

I always intend to keep the blog updated regularly with news from WISEWOMAN, but something always seems to get in the way. For the last month, I have been working on our annual report and reapplication for funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Before that there was always another deadline or commitment.

As I sat down to write this blog post, it hit me. I have trouble finding time to write this blog, the same way our WISEWOMAN participants have trouble finding time to be healthy.

You know how it goes. When she is in your office, she has great intentions. She sets her goal, and she walks out the door ready to make it happen. Then, as the saying goes, “life happens.”

The car breaks down, so she can’t get to the store to buy healthy foods. Once the car is fixed, she doesn't have the money to buy the healthy foods.

She has to take care of her sick granddaughter, so she can’t get out and walk every day like she planned.

Her spouse gets laid off at work, and the added stress makes it too difficult to quit smoking.

How do you react when she tells you? Do you start offering suggestions of ways she could work on her goal in spite of her difficulties? Or, do you empathize with her, and validate how difficult her situation is?

What about your own life and all those good intentions you have that get pushed aside because “life happens?” Think about your own good intentions when you are talking to your WISEWOMAN participants. When she tells you about everything that gets in the way of meeting her goal, use it as an opportunity to express empathy, and then help support her self efficacy by being positive and encouraging her to keep trying. 

Remember, progress not perfection!