Bethany Johnson-Javois

Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO of St. Louis Integrated Health Network, said that PrepareSTL is “addressing systemic intergenerational trauma while working amidst public health crises.”

The St. Louis Regional Health Commission (RHC) has been awarded a $1 million grant from  Missouri Foundation for Health for the second phase of the PrepareSTL campaign.

In its first phase, Prepare STL provided information and resources to people disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 – low-to-moderate income African Americans and people of color living in St. Louis city and county – to slow the spread of the new coronavirus and address its adverse social and economic impacts.

In Prepare STL, RHC works in partnership with the City of St. Louis Department of Health, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, St. Louis Integrated Health Network, Alive and Well Communities, St. Louis Mental Health Board (MHB), Vector Communications and Emerging Wisdom.

“Black women have played a major role in developing and implementing this campaign, and we will continue to cultivate and celebrate the leadership of black women and all community leaders involved with the campaign,” said Angela Fleming Brown, CEO of the RHC.

During the first phase, PrepareSTL partnered with the T (a community trauma center founded by trauma surgeon and community activist Dr. LJ Punch) to assemble and distribute more than 50,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. PrepareSTL organized nearly 200 volunteers to distribute the PPE kits and information to more than 1,000 public places across the city and county, focusing on black neighborhoods, immigrant communities and senior populations.

“PrepareSTL has created an incredible infrastructure for communications, community outreach, and economic development, which has all been rooted in racial and health equity,” said Courtney Stewart, vice president of Strategic Communications at Missouri Foundation for Health.

“We saw an opportunity to build on the outstanding work of our partners, and we didn’t want to lose momentum during a time when accurate, culturally focused information is crucial to those experiencing this pandemic and the challenges it presents for black and foreign-born St. Louisans in their communities.”

Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO of St. Louis Integrated Health Network, said that PrepareSTL is “addressing systemic intergenerational trauma while working amidst public health crises.”

“But the intensity over time without adequate supports and infrastructure will overtap and exhaust our community advocates, whose commitment and effectiveness are often tied to their direct experience of overcoming community traumas,” Johnson-Javois said.

“Caring for the sustained health and well-being of these front-line workers is a fundamental component of this effort.”

Serena Muhammad, director of Strategic Initiatives for the Saint Louis MHB, said that through its outreach and engagement efforts, PrepareSTL is “creating a structure for people to heal together – healers for the healers.”

Rebeccah Bennett, founder and principal of Emerging Wisdom and InPower Institute, is the lead for PrepareSTL outreach efforts.

“While our PrepareSTL canvassers have public health information to impart to residents, they remain committed to observing, understanding, and responding to community needs,” Bennett said. “Through meaningful community input and engagement, community residents will shape the communications strategy and action planning for PrepareSTL.”

Laurna Godwin, owner of Vector Communications, is the lead for PrepareSTL’s communications efforts.

“PrepareSTL demonstrates the importance of combining person-to-person strategies with advertising and media relations,” Godwin said, “because it often requires that people be exposed to a message multiple times and in different ways before they will take action.”

For more information on PrepareSTL, visit PrepareSTL.com.

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