In 2009, the Backyard Initiative (BYI) completed a Community
Assessment. The Assessment was comprised of 21 Listening Circles and
677 face-to-face, walk-around interviews. This work led to the development of
the BYI Definition of Health, from which all of the Backyard's work grew.
Three themes emerged
from the community assessment that helped guide the Backyard Initiative activities
Initiative focused on activities designed to improve four indicators important
These indicators were chosen as
priorities because they relate closely to the BYI Definition of Health and the
findings of the initiative's initial 2009 community assessment report.
The work of the BYI was led by Community Health Action Teams (CHATs). Community residents formed and operated 12 different CHATs over the 10 years of the Backyard Initiative. CHATs provided up to 35 unique activities per month, including free exercise classes, gardening, farmers markets, cultural
arts activities and peer support for people with diabetes and for immigrant communities.
CHATs were supported by the Backyard Initiative Community Commission on Health, a community leadership team that authorized funding and provided oversight for the CHATs, and the Community Resource Body, a connecting entity that leveraged social, cultural
and financial capital to strengthen the Backyard Initiative. Both groups were convened by the Cultural Wellness Center.
The CHAT teams include:
Anchor Families CHAT: This team sought to establish "anchor families" on each block who taught life skills and guiding values to youth and connected youth and their families to resources for wellness.
Circle of Healing CHAT: Members of this CHAT came together as practitioners interested in creating a more formalized network of people around Backyard residents to provide better information and support for healing and reflection about the message of disease. This network served both the Backyard
community receiving care and the healing practitioner community in the Backyard.
Communications CHAT: This group worked to lessen or eliminate the divide between people who have information and those who don’t so that everyone had the opportunity to be engaged in a healthy community.
Growing the Backyard CHAT: This group focused on finding ways to support healthy eating though accessibility to healthy foods and educating about healthy practices across cultures.
Latino/a Environmental Health Begins at Home
CHAT: This group looked at the impact of environment on the health of residents in the Backyard.
Out in the Backyard CHAT: This team connected individuals from all cultures who are LGBTQIA with the resources they needed to be healthy and safe
Project S.E.L.F. (Save Educate Liberate Free)
CHAT: Project S.E.L.F. aimed to assist youth, elders, and families in healthy living and artistic expressions through poetry, open microphone performances, information workshops, and community dialogue.
Rebirthing Community CHAT: This team focused on bringing elders and youth together through mentoring and visual arts for a "rebirthing" of community.
Somali Women’s Health CHAT: Worked to promote communication, understanding, and support among women of the Somali community who had children in the judicial system by creating spaces and systems for them to talk to each other, connect to each other, and assist each other.
TEENS Project: Was a peer to
peer youth leadership and entrepreneurial skills development organization.
Members of the TEENS Project organized and staffed the BYI Resource Center in
the Midtown Global Market.