Toolkit for Community Organizers: Steps for Addressing Chlamydia in Your Community
Why is there a need for the toolkit?
“Chlamydia is more than a medical issue.” Chlamydia infections, though requiring medical treatment, are directly related to having unprotected sex. All aspects of society influence why people have unprotected sex. The determinants of health influencing chlamydia rates cannot be solved by the medical community alone. For this reason, it is essential to approach chlamydia from the social and cultural context of sexual health. The MCP utilizes a community empowerment model as the basis for addressing Minnesota’s epidemic rates of chlamydia.
|Basic Tenets of Community Empowerment|
In 2012, the Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership developed A Special Report: Chlamydia Prevention, a “user friendly” version of The Minnesota Chlamydia Strategy: Action Plan for Reducing and Preventing Chlamydia. It offered recommendations for actions that communities could take to address chlamydia at the local level. The MCP began distributing copies of the Special Report to educate communities and recommend activities that they could undertake with the ultimate goal of reducing chlamydia rates in their community.
Toolkit is developed
Shortly after, members of the MCP realized that many communities did not know how to begin organizing local coalitions. The need for a toolkit for organizers was identified.
The toolkit is a set of tools for implementing the basic tenets of the Community Empowerment Model and the recommendations found in the Minnesota Chlamydia Strategy. The MCP is committed to providing assistance to local communities and organizations in order to focus our efforts on shared, achievable priorities that will enhance the sexual health of all Minnesotans and reduce the rates of chlamydia and other STIs/STDs. The toolkit provides the steps key to organizing in your community as well as examples of how these steps are being utilized by community organizations already implementing the Minnesota Chlamydia Strategy.
Kandiyohi County Public Health chosen to develop toolkit
Kandiyohi County is located in the middle of Minnesota, in a relatively rural area; the largest community is Willmar, a town of 19, 570 people(2). Chlamydia rates in teens and young adult females living in Kandiyohi County had been consistently high over the previous decade and Public Health was interested in addressing the problem.
For seventeen years, Kandiyohi County Public Health (KCPH) had successfully coordinated a community coalition that was organized to address teen pregnancy and adolescent sexual health prior to 2013. The Kandiyohi County Coalition for Healthy Adolescent Sexuality (CHAS) was diverse and reflective of community culture and values. Many of the members had an interest and experience in working with youth, parents and diverse communities including the Hispanic and Somali communities. CHAS also had support of various agencies. The active participation of standing CHAS members was a strong foundation for this demonstration project.(3) After searching the state for similar organizations, MDH determined that CHAS was the only coalition that was focused on sexual health and was thus able to take on a project of this nature. KCHP and CHAS were approached and readily agreed to participate in a project that could develop a new project while at the same time utilizing the wealth of skills and information that CHAS already possessed.
As a member of the MCP, in 2013 MDH funded a demonstration pilot project with Kandiyohi County Public Health and CHAS using unspent funds from its federal STD grant.The intent of the funding would allow CHAS to:
- Demonstrate a process for organizing rural communities to implement the Minnesota Chlamydia Strategy.
- Partner with TeenwiseMN and the University of Minnesota Konopka Institute to complete and publish A Special Report: Chlamydia Prevention booklet.
- Evaluate and explore the local social determinants of health related to sexual health.
- Utilize community engagement to empower local leaders to develop a plan based on the Minnesota Chlamydia Strategy to address the issues of sexual health in their community.
- Increase awareness of the general public regarding the extent and impact of chlamydia in the young adult population.
- Empower parents in their role as primary sexuality educators of their children.
- Serve as a model for other communities in Minnesota to implement the Minnesota Chlamydia Strategy.(4)
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