“We want someone who looks and talks like us to help us find ways to be healthier.” This quote, from a Dayton, Ohio, community leader in 1992, led to the development of a community health advocate program with a focus on neighbors helping neighbors to improve health. This article describes advocacy at the individual level and outlines the step-by-step process taken in Dayton to develop a community health advocate program. This process includes: (1) the advocate recruitment and training process; (2) the roles the advocates play; (3) how the investment in them pays off; (4) how students can be included; and (5) how the program is evaluated.
Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine, Vice Chair and Chief of Community Health, Director of the Center for Healthy Communities, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Maurana)
Director, Division of Community Health Advocacy, Center for Healthy Communities, Wright State University, Eugene W. Kettering Center Faculty, Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio (Rodney)
The authors thank and recognize all the community health advocates who have provided and continue to provide improved health for individuals and the community-at-large of Dayton, Ohio, by being the link that is necessary between the neighborhoods and health and social service providers. The authors also acknowledge the significant contributions of Gail L. Newton for her writing and editorial assistance.