Project Overview

Goals of We Engage 4 Health

Improve health and science knowledge in the community

Health and science knowledge (literacy) and community health go hand in hand. Health information can be complex and confusing to those of us who are not medical professionals. Improving health literacy helps community members read and act upon written health information, communicate needs to health professionals, and understand health instructions. 

Science literacy is part of health literacy, since everything about health relates to science concepts from biology, chemistry, and environmental science.

Reduce chronic disease in communities where it occurs most

Chronic diseases are those that last over a long period of time and often cannot be cured, only managed. 

Common chronic diseases include high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, heart (cardiovascular) disease, and obesity. In Cincinnati, like the rest of the United States, more low income and minority individuals have these diseases than other groups and also experience worse health outcomes from chronic diseases.

Increase citizens' involvement in their own and community's health

Improvements in health cannot happen by forcing change on citizens — it requires their active participation. 

Health professionals see active patient and citizen participation as a key factor in long-lasting health and quality health care. 

Active participation as patients involves people making decisions about their own health. Active participation as citizens involves examining the health challenges of the community as a whole and working to influence improvements that benefit the community.

Components of We Engage 4 Health

We Engage 4 Health will offer community programs in the Cincinnati, Ohio neighborhoods of West End, Over the Rhine, and Price Hill to involve citizens of all ages in learning about health science, identifying health challenges in their own communities, and participating in community-led research and action.

We Engage 4 Health programs are designed to foster increasing levels of activation: from participation, to contribution, and finally to ownership.

We Engage 4 Health is a collaboration of many Cincinnati area institutions and groups, including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Miami University Center for Chemistry Education, and the Seven Hills Neighborhood House. You can learn about all the project partners here.

We Engage 4 Health is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) Program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) award number R25GM129808.

Relationship of We Engage 4 Health project components and level of activation

Topics in We Engage 4 Health

Project materials and experiences will center around three main topic areas: 

Throughout history, people have been interested in how parents pass traits such as hair or eye color to their children. Traits are inherited from parents as DNA instructions called genes. Scientists call the study of inheritance genetics.

Some genes give a person a greater chance — a predisposition —  to getting a certain disease. For example, with the same lifestyle and environment, one person might never develop asthma while another person does develop it. The person who develops the disease may have a genetic predisposition to develop asthma under certain conditions. Someone might say a certain disease “runs in the family.”

Since we cannot change the genes we inherited from our parents, if we have predispositions to certain diseases, we can only change our lifestyle and environment to help avoid developing the disease or to better control it if we already have it.

Nutrition and lifestyle are critical components of wellness. For most diseases, genetics plays a role, but lifestyle choices are often even more important. The actions we take to promote wellness can actually prevent many chronic diseases. Positive nutrition and lifestyle choices can also minimize the health impacts of chronic diseases we do have.

Fruits and vegetables are always a great choice for good nutrition! Fruits and vegetables have many health benefits, especially those richest in antioxidants. The antioxidants found in colorful fruits and vegetables can protect our cells against damage and inflammation.

Read our stories to find out more about the health power of colorful fruits and vegetables. 

We have all become more aware that human activity can have negative impact on the environment. We may not be as aware of how the environment affects our wellness. Learning about different sources of indoor and outdoor air pollution can help us protect our health. 

Air pollution is a combination of gases and solid particles that come from many sources both outdoors and indoors. People with asthma and other lung diseases especially need to be aware of air pollution levels on a daily basis.

Read our stories to find out more about the health impacts of air pollution. 

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Meet Big Sam

Big Sam is a 40-something security guard at the high school Jazzy and Vito attend. Big Sam is worried about his health and recently found out his blood pressure is high. He covers up his worries with jokes. He lives in the apartment above Miss Georgia.

Meet Jazzy

Jazzy is a cheerful younger high school age girl. She is a cheerleader and does gymnastics. She enjoys spending time with older people and loves to bake with Miss Georgia. She has asthma and works hard to control it so she can enjoy her activities.

Meet Cardi

Cardi is a 30-something aerobics teacher at the community center who loves to help people get more fit and healthy but can be a bit too much “in your face” about it. She means well though!

Meet Vito

Vito is a plays-it-cool older high schooler who is sweet-natured at heart. He plays basketball at the community center and is friends with Jazzy. He loves pop and chips and can’t see why eating all he wants of them is a problem.

Meet Pops

Pops is a retired high school science teacher who loves to keep helping people learn about science and health. He likes to check out what everyone is doing or talking about and step in to give his opinion.

Meet Miss Georgia

Miss Georgia is a fun-loving lady in her 50’s who loves to sing, dance, and bake. She is always helping out at community events. She recently found out she has diabetes, and she is learning new ways to cook.