Academic Partnerships and Key Leaders Emerging from Communities in the Lower Mississippi Delta (Lmd): A Community-Based Participatory Research Model

Article excerpt

Abstract: Collaboratively, the nutritional health problems of the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) region were examined and opportunities identified for conducting research interventions. To combat the nutritional health problems in the LMD, community residents yielded to a more comprehensive and participatory approach known as community-based participatory research (CBPR). Community residents partnered with academic researchers and other organizational entities to improve the overall quality of diet and health in their respective communities using CBPR. The collaborative work in the LMD focused on interventions conducted in each of three specific communities across three states: Marvell, Arkansas (Marvell NIRI), and its surrounding public school district; Franklin Parish in Louisiana (Franklin NIRI); and the city of Hollandale, Mississippi (Hollandale NIRI). This paper examined some of the research interventions conducted in Franklin, Hollandale, and Marvell NIRI respectively, how leadership emerged from each of these communities, and lessons learned as a result of the CBPR model.

Key Words: Partnerships, Research Interventions, Rural Populations

Six academic and research partners in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, a local community and the cooperative extension service in eacn state, funded by the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS), together comprised the Lower Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative (Delta NIRI) consortium. Collaboratively, the Delta NIRI team examined the nutritional health problems of the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) region and identified opportunities for conducting research interventions. A further examination of each state noted above suggested an even greater need for research and interventions. For example, Mississippi has the highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 32.5 percent and the highest of overweight youths (ages 10-17) at 44.4 percent; Louisiana has the 8th highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 28.9 percent and the 7th highest of overweight youths (ages 10-17) at 35.9 percent; and Arkansas has the 10th highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 28.6 percent and the second highest of overweight youths (ages 10-17) at 37.5 percent according to a new report QuIy, 2009) by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). In addition, the LMD region ranks near the top in cancer mortality, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (Stuff et al, 2004).

In order to address some of the nutritional health problems in the LMD, community residents yielded to a more comprehensive and participatory approach to research and interventions (Green, George, Daniel, et al., 1995; Israel, Schulz, Parker, & Becker, 1998; Israel, Schulz, Parker, et al., 2003; Israel, Eng, Schulz, & Parker, 2005; Minkler & Wallerstein, 2003; Schulz, Krieger, & Galea, 2002). This type of comprehensive and participatory approach to research and interventions is known as community-based participatory research (CBPR). Community residents partnered with academic researchers and other organizational entities to improve the overall quality of diet and health in their respective communities employing the (CBPR) model. The collaborative work in the LMD focused on interventions conducted in each of three specific communities across three states: Marvell, Arkansas (Marvell NIRI), and its surrounding public school district; Franklin Parish in Louisiana (Franklin NIRI); and the city of Hollandale, Mississippi (Hollandale NIRI). These communities were chosen because community leaders demonstrated high levels of enthusiasm towards the Delta NIRI program and community residents had previously demonstrated their ability to work together at improving their overall fitness and health (Core, 2006). This paper examined some of the research interventions conducted in Franklin, Hollandale, and Marvell NIRI respectively, how leadership emerged from each of these communities, and lessons learned as a result of the CBPR model. …