knowbetterlivebetter
About the program

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” - Maya Angelou

Know Better, Live Better is an initiative to promote community well-being and reduce health disparities, with a special focus on protecting Westchester residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program takes an evidence-based “trusted messenger” approach, which relies on trustworthy members of various Westchester communities to facilitate discussions about disease prevention, health equity, and healthcare navigation.

How does it work?
Trusted messengers are members of the community who have a passion for community wellness and collective action for health equity. They get training on COVID-19-related health issues and more general information about prevention of disease and navigating the various types of local healthcare resources in Westchester County. They also learn about moderating discussions where people from different backgrounds bring diverse opinions to the table. At the end of the training, trusted messengers receive an outline for a 1-hour health information session that they will lead in the communities they know best.

Community and faith-based organizations (CBOs) contribute their local knowledge to these trainings to ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness.They help program staff identify trusted messengers, as well as the communities that may benefit from having a trusted messenger in their neighborhoods.

Program Staff at the Westchester County Department of Health (DOH) are the primary administrators of the program, handling logistics and coordinating the collaboration of CBOs, trusted messengers, health providers (including nurses and physicians), and other community members. DOH works with these partners to provide trainings and support to trusted messengers so they feel confident in their leadership role.   

DOH is also working with the Westchester County Department of Corrections to implement a parallel program in county jails, with trusted messengers facilitating health information sessions among residents of the jail as well as the correctional officers.

Guiding Principles

  • Community expertise over technical knowledge:
    We prioritize building an educational program that is community-based and community-engaged. CBO collaborations with the trusted messengers guide interactive information sessions that are relevant, culturally sensitive, and linguistically appropriate for diverse Westchester communities. 

  • Listening over lecturing:
    Our unique 1-hour health information sessions are interactive and discussion-based. Community members have the opportunities to share personal concerns about COVID-19 and accessing quality healthcare in Westchester. As an attendee at these sessions, you are encouraged to give your knowledge about barriers to health improvement and healthcare access in your community. You will also have the chance to ask questions to individuals with technical and health-related knowledge about the topics that concern you most. That way, helpful information is exchanged in both directions.

  • Prevention over cure:
    The popular phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” guides our emphasis on health behaviors and resources to improve overall physical and mental well-being. We aim to equip Westchester residents with sustainable tools and knowledge to protect themselves and their loved ones from a broad range of health concerns, not just the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Long-term solutions over short-term fixes:
    A holistic approach to our health can prepare us better to make health decisions when needed. We also aim to build lasting relationships between health providers, community organizations, faith networks, and the community at large. When health issues arise, it is important that there is an existing trust and understanding that aids effective communication, resource-sharing, and mutual feelings of support. 

Why are participants asked to complete surveys?
To measure program effectiveness, we are asking members of the community to fill out voluntary, confidential surveys before and after attending a health information session. This is completely optional, and you are welcome to leave any or all survey questions blank. Attendees of each 1-hour session will receive a $10 Amazon gift card to compensate them for their time and participation.

 Attendees may also receive a second $10 gift card for completing an optional 3-month follow-up survey. We hope these survey results can inform health providers, policymakers, and other leaders about more effective ways to educate, communicate, and support community health.

Want to get involved?
Learn about becoming a trusted messenger or a CBO partner.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us at DOH-LiveBetter@westchestergov.com