Campus organizations collaborate to improve health in Buffalo State community

Buffalo State’s Center for Health and Social Research and the Center for Development of Human Services have joined together to form the Institute for Community Health Promotion.

Already successful in their respective areas of expertise, the thought process behind the collaboration is to take advantage of the other’s specialties in order to improve the health of the campus and its surrounding communities.

By combining the research tools from one center and the training capabilities of the other, ICHP plans to benefit not only Buffalo State’s students, but New York State’s community as a whole.

ICHP will allow for interactions and collaborations with various academic departments on campus as students from disciples all the way from communications to education and social work will be able to work hands on with the institute.

For example, starting in the fall of 2014, the school will offer two courses where students in the health and wellness discipline can participate in service-learning projects directly through ICHP.

Students in the public administration master’s-level program within the political science major will also benefit from the new institution as they can participate in trainings focused on how to make the delivery of government services more effective.

“The goal of this is to be able to melt this entire broad capacity that goes from social services to community based projects,” said William Wieczorek, former director of the CHSR, now director of the new institute.

The CHSR primarily focuses in doing research in the areas of health promotion and prevention. The center works to find proactive methods that help avoid a decrease in community health.

The CDHS, a statewide organization that works directly with government agencies, is involved in developing curriculum and training for human service workers, all of which is aimed to teach employees how to respond to challenging circumstances they may encounter throughout their work.

The goal of the partnership between these two centers is community health promotion.  Thus, students will not only be able to participate in projects within the campus realm, but also in projects out in the community.

“The opportunities to take part in projects that are out in the community are great,” said Mark Sevenson, dean of Natural and Social Sciences and special advisor to the provost for academic research initiatives. “That kind of experience is becoming more and more important. It will be a benefit to our community as well as to our students.”

ICHP also plans to increase funding for community projects and provide a better method to influence both individuals and community health outcomes such as the prevention of health problems beyond just having a disease.

“Health is not just not getting sick,” Wieczorek said, “It’s about how you live a successful, fruitful, meaningful life. … It includes things such as emotional well-being, avoiding violence and substance abuse, preventing child abuse and preventing mental illness.”

“It’s that picture of this continuum of health promotion and prevention that the CHSR and CDHS are focusing on,” Wieczorek said.

Campus staff will also work side to side with ICHP by providing resources to the institute. For example, as Wieczorek mentioned, a technology professor can help with a simple, yet useful service such as providing the institute with a specific spreadsheet needed for a project.

“It really is bringing together lots of people on the campus,” said Kelly Marczynski, assistant director for ICHP. “It encompasses everyone.”

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