Know Better Live Better
“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 in Westchester County. The program takes an evidence-based “trusted messenger” approach, which relies on a group of trustworthy Westchester residents to open discussions about disease prevention, finding health information, and accessing health services.

Who are Trusted Messengers   
Trusted Messengers are residents who are passionate about community wellness and enjoy working collaboratively toward health equity. They will learn about COVID-19-related health issues; general disease prevention and how to navigate healthcare resources in Westchester County. Trusted Messengers also will learn how to moderate discussions among people of different backgrounds who bring diverse opinions to the table. After the training, Trusted Messengers will receive an outline for a one-hour health information session to lead in the communities they know best.

What do community or faith-based organizations contribute?
Community and faith-based organizations 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. They can be compensated for their contributions.

What is the County Health Department’s role?
Program staff at the Westchester County Department of Health are the primary administrators of the program. They will handle logistics and coordinate the collaboration of organizations, trusted messengers, health providers (including nurses and physicians), and other community members. County Health Department staff works with these partners to provide training and support to trusted messengers so they feel confident in their leadership role.  

The County Health Department is also working with the Westchester County Department of Corrections to implement a parallel program in County jails. Trusted messengers will hold 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. By collaborating with community and faith-based organizations and Trusted Messengers, we aim to develop and deliver interactive information sessions that are relevant, culturally sensitive, and linguistically appropriate for diverse Westchester communities.

Listening over lecturing:
Our one-hour health information sessions are interactive discussions. Community members are encouraged to share personal concerns about COVID-19 and accessing quality healthcare in Westchester. You are encouraged to share your knowledge about barriers to health improvement and healthcare access in your community. You also can ask questions of 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 quick 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?
We ask participants to fill out optional voluntary, confidential surveys before and after attending a health information session. By completing these surveys you help us improve our service to your community by helping us assess and improve our program’s effectiveness.

Results of these surveys will be shared with health providers, policymakers and other leaders to help them identify more effective ways to educate, communicate, and support community health.