In January 2018, 10 community members from Rhode Island completed their coursework to become certified Community Health Workers in their respective communities. Their course consisted of 15 workshops, each lasting three hours, on topics including community capacity building, root causes of disparities, communication, cultural humility, co-learning, leadership, CHW ethical code, self-care and conflict resolution, home visiting and CPR. Armed with core skills prepared these CHWs, front line public and community health practitioners with the means to listen, hear, share and build themselves and their communities.
CHWs create a bridge between providers of health services, community services, social agencies and vulnerable populations within the community. Community health workers are trained to provide basic health education and referrals for a wide range of services, and to provide support and assist in navigating the health and social services system while building capacity of individuals, their families and the community.
CHWs with their peer -to- peer relationships are better positioned to see the assets of their community instead of only its deficits approach, which can be enhanced by their ability to perform community assets mapping – identify community resources. They are also positioned to perform data collection, which can be used to advocate for and with individuals and their communities.
Community Health Innovations of Rhode Island (CHI-RI) began officially training CHWs in 2011, and since then have graduated over 50 individuals. With course and individual participant evaluations in progress, CHI-RI hopes to continue building its community-based and focused CHW course for to improve the community’s health.