Shaping up Somerville: a community initiative in Massachusetts.


We live in an era of low expectations for big ideas. On the environment, on health insurance, on the economy, the public and policy-makers alike display real cynicism about achieving transformative change. Shape Up Somerville (SUS), however, demonstrates that communities have considerable ability to shape attitudes and behaviors that significantly improve public health and transform the quality of life for their citizens. One of the clear lessons of SUS is that there are no magic bullets: change on this scale requires a collective approach focused on multiple community systems. However, the effect of these changes can be a powerful force in influencing the values of a community and the issues and changes for which it will advocate. SUS has prioritized health and wellness through the implementation of numerous community-improvement initiatives, including school food service reform; enhanced nutrition and physical activity curricula; a healthy restaurants initiative; an increased number of community gardens; renovated parks; and improved bike, pedestrian, and public transit. These changes required a multi-sector commitment from key leaders and their success, over time, indicates that big ideas can have a big impact. SUS began as a 3-year, controlled, community-based participatory research (CBPR) trial designed to prevent and reduce obesity in early elementary schoolchildren, with core funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This research phase provided financial support for a planning and monitoring year during which key relationships were built between and among Tufts University's Medford and Boston, MA campuses; the City of Somerville, MA; and community agencies, while community needs were assessed. Formative data (e.g., focus groups, key informant interviews) were collected to inform the design of the intervention, while training

DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.10.017


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@article{Economos2010ShapingUS, title={Shaping up Somerville: a community initiative in Massachusetts.}, author={Christina Economos and Joseph A Curtatone}, journal={Preventive medicine}, year={2010}, volume={50 Suppl 1}, pages={S97-8} }