Bridges to Healthy Communities 2005 is AACC's second five-year cooperative agreement with the Division of Adolescent and School Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under the provisions of Announcement 00081, "Cooperative Agreements for National Organizations to Enable Postsecondary Institutions to Prevent HIV Infection and other Important Health Problems Among Youth," which was instituted in 2000. The Bridges project was funded from 1995-2000 under announcement 532, "Cooperative Agreements for a National System of Integrated Activities to Prevent HIV Infection and Serious Health Problems Among Students, Especially Postsecondary Students."
Bridges to Healthy Communities 2005 is building a community college infrastructure that supports education and information programs to prevent HIV infection and other serious health problems in students and youth.
Research suggests that information alone is not sufficient to create behavioral changes that prevent HIV infection. Effective HIV prevention embeds HIV/AIDS information in a variety of contexts, uses culturally relevant and language-appropriate interventions, and is highly interactive, utilizing discussions and building skills.
Campuses focusing on HIV prevention and health promotion and wellness are urged to assess their campuses using the indicators of success developed by the American Association of Community Colleges, the American College Health Association, and Bacchus and Gamma Peer Education Network. That assessment includes the following: campus environment and policy, health messages, professional development, student leadership, prevention programs, priority populations, health services, and collaboration.
The Bridges project is helping community colleges improve student and community health through models of integrated activities that bring together campus and community. They involve individuals, families, schools, and communities. Service learning is the primary strategy and is supplemented by a variety of specific strategies left to the creativity and imagination of the colleges. These include:
- Health-related college policies (e.g., alcohol use, STI testing)
- Curricular infusion
- Peer education
- Staff development
- Information distribution during registration, advising, and counseling
- Co-curricular activities such as special events led by health professionals
- Information dissemination, including print and electronic media
- Collaboration with community organizations and public health agencies
The "personality" and resources of participating colleges are helping to mold their approaches for integrating activities. The result by the end of the five-year project will be a rich array of approaches geared to the needs of individual colleges.