Journal of Environmental Health
December 2016, Volume 79, No. 5, 14–19
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A Community-Based Participatory Research Approach to Identifying Environmental Concerns
Elizabeth Ablah, MPH, PhD, University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita
Jack Brown, MUA, RS, University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita
Barry Carroll, MPS, MSW, LMSW/BSRB, Environmental Leadership Council
Tonya Bronleewe, MSES, Environmental Leadership Council, City of Wichita
A community-based participatory research process was used to develop an environmental initiative in Wichita, Kansas, called the Wichita Initiative to Renew the Environment (WIRE). The two-year project, led by University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita faculty and a community-based organization, was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project aimed to identify, prioritize, and address Wichitans’ environmental concerns by engaging the community to assist in developing the project design, establish a community-based environmental leadership council to guide the project, and identify and prioritize the community’s environmental concerns based on impact and perceived urgency for action. The collaboration identified community priorities as: trash disposal, pollution in the Arkansas River and groundwater, and mobile source air pollution. Through WIRE, community members actively engaged and participated in identifying and prioritizing 19 environmental concerns most pertinent to the community, establishing an organization of 25 community members, and setting the stage for future projects to address those problems.