This proposal seeks funding to explore using digital storytelling to engage residents of the North End of Springfield, Massachusetts to actively address ongoing community and personal health issues. The proposed research is a direct outgrowth of the continuing community conference partnership work between Smith College and the North End Outreach Network of Springfield, Massachusetts (see 5 U13 HD 052393). Working within a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Model (Minkler &Wallerston, 2003), we will explore the use of digital storytelling as a translational mechanism to convey health information to community members in a culturally relevant and personally involving form. This approach will allow us to explore whether this exciting new technique will enhance """"""""community engagement"""""""" by residents of the North End community, improving understanding of and participation in existing community health services to address personal, familial, and community health concerns. The working research group will conduct regular meeting to discuss and provide oversight to the development of the digital storytelling program. A key activity will be to conduct monthly digital storytelling workshops where residents generate their own personal stories. At these workshop's, participants will gain important technical literacy skills and will provide feedback on the structure and possibilities for the storytelling format.
The aim of this activity is to build research capacity by constructing an extensive digital story library with each story catalog for both topical and affective significance. In collecting data on the digital stories, we will employ Perception Analysis techniques to explore the feasibility of using digital stories to identify barriers to participation in health care services. Once cataloged, we will examine the utility of digital stories as tools to promoting community building and engagement. Working from this community feedback, we propose to produce and examine the efficacy of topically organized compendiums of stories on digital media for use as a translational and engagement tool in outreach efforts.
The proposed community based participatory research examines the feasibility of using digital storytelling to engage residents in health service utilization within their community. We also examine the use of produced stories to mobilize community action to address health concerns. Finally, we explore the use of these compelling personal stories as a translational mechanism for conveying health research and related information. Each of these objectives is embedded within a working framework to promote and expand a community partnership between faculty, students and staff of Smith College and the residents of the North End neighborhoods of Springfield, Massachusetts.