Community Based Participatory Research Training sparks opportunities for shared learning and future partnerships

Elon staff and faculty participated in a community based participatory research (CBPR) training with community members and agency representatives.

Members of the Elon community participated Jan. 24-25 in a training about Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). The training was organized by the Health Equity Collective of Alamance County alongside local community members and organizational representatives.

Elon staff, faculty and Service Year Fellow participants included Bridgette Agbozo, Stephanie Baker, Katie Davin, Bob Frigo, Taylor Jones, Danielle Lake, Mary Morrison, Mariatu Okonofua, Allison Pelyhes, Lexy Roberts and Chelsea Thomas.

Since 2015, Assistant Professor of Public Health Studies Stephanie Baker and Ann Meletzke, the executive director of Healthy Alamance, have been cultivating a CBPR partnership. This partnership has emphasized the benefit of shared capacity building in community-academic partnerships.

Baker and Meletzke are members of The Health Equity Collective of Alamance County, a group of community members, agency representatives, and Elon faculty who are focused on issues of health equity in Alamance County. The collective expressed a desire to learn more about CBPR together and to open up the learning opportunity to others in the community.

CBPR is an approach to research that promotes trust and power-sharing between organizational representatives and researchers and the communities they work with by encouraging open dialogue and sustainable partnership formation while also promoting equity and inclusion. CBPR is a valuable tool for all involved as it helps to deepen understanding of one another, to develop long lasting relationships, thus leading to more meaningful research and information exchange that is used to solve social issues.

One workshop participant said “the model is something that I will share with colleagues. I will also be using the equity and inclusion content to help advance my personal journey,” while another participant commented, “I enjoyed learning about CBPR with a diverse group that represents different parts of Alamance County.”

Baker has been using CBPR approaches in her research for nearly a decade and noted that “it’s really exciting that so many people want to build and strengthen the use of CBPR and it’s always a wonderful experience to learn with and alongside folks from all different backgrounds and with so many different types of expertise. The benefit of co-learning is that it shifts power dynamics so that everyone is coming with a similar knowledge base and can hold one another accountable.”

The two-day learning opportunity was conducted by experienced community and academic experts. The training team included Geni Eng, professor of health behavior, and Alexandra Lightfoot, research assistant professor, both in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, as well, Melvin Jackson, a principal partner with The PRIME Collective, LLC, and Dr. Jennifer Schaal, a founding member of the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative. This event was offered free of charge to participants thanks to contributions from Impact Alamance, Elon’s Service Year Fellows Program, and the Kernodle Center’s Community Partner Initiative Grant.