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