The Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse (CRUSADA), part of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, recently hosted a community fair at the Homestead Everglades Community Center. The fair, led by Gira J. Ravelo, research assistant professor at CRUSADA, was an attempt to disseminate research findings to the local community, while simultaneously creating positive everlasting partnerships. The findings delivered were from community-based participatory research (CBPR) conducted by CRUSADA in the Homestead area among Latino seasonal farm workers.
“Conducting research in a community requires collaboration, partnerships, participation, and most of all, trust between community leaders, members and researchers. However, the continuous criticism from communities is that research findings are rarely, if ever, communicated back to participants and their communities,” said Ravelo. “Our goal for the fair was to reconnect with the participants of our study and also share with them clear, meaningful and concise finding that are appropriate for lay populations.”
Without sharing findings, participants often feel their time and efforts are contributing to a research agenda that is detached from their own or will not meaningfully impact their communities. The result is the break-down of community-academic partnerships, distrust and suspicion among community members toward researchers, making it difficult to conduct health promotion and disease prevention studies in communities.
CRUSADA took on the challenge by hosting the community family fair. In addition, members from nearby farm working communities were invited to participate. The event was done in holiday theme with all-you-can-eat food and drinks, live music, bounce houses, face paint and balloon shapes for the children, as well as FIU/CRUSADA promotional items, prizes. In the spirit of the holiday season, a live Santa Clause also joined the festivities.
To meet CRUSADA’s goal of research findings dissemination and strengthening trust and relationships, CRUSADA placed science booths with posters from studies, completed in the local farm working community, displaying results in layman’s terms. The booths were manned by scientist and community leaders who communicated and elaborated on findings and implications; they also introduced current studies.
The results exceeded CRUSADA expectations. More than 500 people attended. The community responded with overwhelming gratitude to CRUSADA’s team for their willingness to invest so much into their communities. CRUSADA’s innovative community research findings dissemination method created positive impressions and relationships in a very difficult to reach community.
“This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” concluded Ravelo.