by Esther Bush
This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on a major child and adolescent health and wellness initiative called The Pittsburgh Study. Liz Miller, community engagement colead of the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, spoke about this topic.
LM: Good afternoon, Ms. Bush. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to talk about the Pittsburgh Study with you as the Urban League has been an integral partner in conceptualizing this community-partnered study. As you know, the Pittsburgh Study is a large undertaking where we are trying to learn together with community members about what works to ensure children and adolescents are healthy, thriving and meeting their academic goals. The Pittsburgh Study will be looking at interventions to improve the health and wellness of pregnant women, infants, toddlers, school-age children and adolescents.
EB: Yes, Liz. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at a planning retreat for the Pittsburgh Study about the importance of building trust. One of the key ways in which trust is built is by listening to and involving community members as active participants in the research. One of the shared principles that came out of that retreat was the importance of doing research “with” people and not “on” people.
LM: Absolutely. We’ve been meeting with community members across our county to hear what they believe thriving children look like. Community members have shared with us that “thriving” means having lots of love and support and safe environments free from oppression and pollution.
EB: I’m so glad that you mention oppression. This is so important to talk about because far too many children are living in neighborhoods with concentrated disadvantages where, because of discrimination and institutional racism, they’re not afforded the same opportunities as children in more privileged environments. We need to have interventions and policies that recognize these inequities and work to correct them.
LM: Indeed. I’m so happy that many community organizations and people from diverse backgrounds are getting involved. We’d love to have interested community members join the different groups working on the Pittsburgh Study. Community partnerships help make sure that our science is meaningful and relevant.
EB: I think the Pittsburgh Study reminds us that it truly takes a village to nurture our children. Thank you so much for having this conversation with me, Liz. I really hope that more people get involved and excited about the Pittsburgh Study. I look forward to next month, as well, when we discuss sleep and how important it is for healthy kids and successful learning!
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