Using an already established and proven curriculum of diabetes and hypertension prevention and management, "Hispanos Saludables,” a Health Department program, the team developed a script with input from the Latino arts community, community health centers, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and MAPPR researchers. The script, whose principal writer was Irania Patterson, with Health Department Nutritionist Karina Bolanas as consultant, comprised 10 radio episodes of around two minutes each concerning a group of friends who come together for a reunion after 15 years.
During these episodes, the friends discuss their successes, failures, and secrets. In addition, they discuss food, their health and some of their good and bad health habits. All recording and post-production of the radio novella was done at the Health Department’s Health Communication studio on Billingsley Road. Brisa Hernandez of MAPPR served as executive producer. The episodes ran on Latina 102.3 FM for 4 weeks last year.
More recently, the entire 16-minute radionovela ran along with 14 additional minutes of pre-recorded interviews and live call-ins. The project now has a Facebook page
where visitors can now hear the entire drama unfold.
MAPPR recently presented the project at the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health national conference in Houston. As a result of the feedback from that presentation, a tool kit will be developed to help other communities reproduce the use of the radionovela method in their communities to encourage healthy changes.
Use of community participatory methods has emerged as a way of developing community based interventions that aim to be feasible, effective and sustainable. The Latino population in Mecklenburg County (which now stands at more than 110,000 people) experiences many barriers in accessing health care services and increasing health disparities as the population matures.
Using CPBR, MAPPR has developed a number of partnerships with Latino community members and Latino serving organizations to find ways to eliminate these barriers, increase access to services and decrease disparities. “Reeuncuentro” will continue to provide an ongoing channel through which the community can be engaged and encouraged to adopt healthy choices concerning diet and physical activity.