Comprehensive Planning as a Vehicle for Community Change

Adjoa Mante
Adjoa Mante ’17, Project 55 Fellow at Sinai Community Institute, Chicago IL

Adjoa Mante was raised in Villanova, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants and has one younger sister. At Princeton, she was able to combine her interests in public health, the African diaspora and the intricacies of language through a major in the department of Spanish and Portuguese. Adjoa has been able to study and research in both Havana and Bogotá through the support of University programs in Latin American Studies and Global Health. These experiences, in addition to domestic coursework and internships, have sparked Adjoa’s passion for addressing the social determinants of health. Adjoa also loves learning new forms of dance, and has been involved in both bhangra and salsa groups. Here she shares reflections on her work with the Sinai Community Institute.

For the first time in over half a century, the Chicago community of North Lawndale is engaged in a comprehensive planning process. A complete neighborhood plan will be released in a few months.

This local planning initiative has been led by the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCCC), a coalition of stakeholders united in efforts to promote strategic, community-driven development in North Lawndale. With the support of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and LISC Chicago, NLCCC has worked towards the creation a neighborhood quality of life plan to promote the economic, environmental, social, emotional and physical wellbeing of the community.

I joined this planning process in September 2017 as a member of the NLCCC Health & Wellness subcommittee’s leadership team. The overall goal of our committee is to address health inequities at the community level, through the development and implementation of strategies outlined in the Health & Wellness chapter of the North Lawndale plan. Under the direction of the committee chair and Sinai Community Institute (SCI) President and along with the committee’s co-vice chairs, I have coordinated meetings, revised chapter content, and worked to develop partnerships with local health leaders and organizations.

My involvement with the Health & Wellness committee has allowed me to participate in the integration of expertise from different types of community health organizations. In my position as a research assistant at SCI, I’ve worked primarily with three separate entities: Sinai Community Institute (SCI), a community-based human services institute; Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI), an epidemiology-focused research team; and TR4IM (Trauma Response and Intervention Movement), a North Lawndale referral network. While it sometimes feels like there’s limited communication across these different entities, through NLCCC I’ve seen how they can all contribute uniquely yet simultaneously to community planning. SCI’s community connections, SUHI’s evaluation expertise and TR4IM’s intervention model have all been critical in the development of the health and wellness plan. A clear strength of the NLCCC’s planning process is this ability to leverage the expertise of differing local institutions to create a more refined and impactful product.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about neighborhood-driven efforts to change the social and economic conditions that impact community wellbeing through this work with NLCCC and SCI. While plan implementation and dissemination surely pose their own challenges, I am hopeful about this chance to drive community change through local collaboration.


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