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Planting Seeds to Reduce Violence: The Medical College of Wisconsin’s Violence Prevention Initiative to Host Event Focusing on Promising Environmental Interventions

Nov. 8, 2012

Results from the “Greening of Vacant Lots” project in Philadelphia will be shared at a special presentation Monday, November 19 at the Mitchell Park Pavilion on the Lagoon (behind the Mitchell Park Domes), sponsored by the Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) violence prevention initiative’s research and evaluation team for community grand rounds. The purpose of the community grand rounds is to educate and engage a broad community audience in approaches to violence prevention.

“Greening of Vacant Lots” is a partnership of university, community and municipal government in Philadelphia, to turn vacant lots that are overgrown with vegetation and filled with trash, into clean and green spaces. The project has been associated with reductions in gun assaults, vandalism and stress and increases in exercise in select sections of the city. Charles Branas, PhD, professor of epidemiology, associate professor of emergency medicine and director of the cartographic modeling laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, and Robert Grossman, director of the Philadelphia landcare program of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, will present the project and evaluation results.

Youth violence is a significant health problem in Milwaukee. According to MCW’s violence prevention initiative (VPI), more than 2,500 children and young adults are treated or hospitalized annually for violence-related injuries in Milwaukee. In addition, geographic disparities exist, with some neighborhoods facing homicide rates nearly 10 times higher than the citywide average.

“We have much to learn from other communities utilizing environmental strategies to address violence and improve the health of our neighborhoods and communities,” said Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH, associate dean of the MCW global health program, professor and chair of the department of emergency medicine and director of the injury research center. “We want to increase awareness of the impact of Philadelphia’s greening effort, and build a value for community-academic partnerships to address community health and safety issues. We look forward to many sectors of civil society in attending this event.”

Dr. Hargarten oversees the VPI research and evaluation team. He will serve as host and moderator of the community grand rounds, entitled “Planting the Seeds of Environmental Interventions: an Evidence-Based Approach to Reduce Violence.”

The event is Monday, November 19 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. at the Mitchell Park Pavilion on the Lagoon, 2200 W. Pierce Street in Milwaukee. A continental breakfast will be available beginning at 8:30 a.m. The event is free to attend but registration is required by November 9. To R.S.V.P., contact Mary Czinner at (414) 955-7671 or mczinner@mcw.edu.

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"Hidden Tosa" is a semi-regular feature where reporters Rory Linnane or Rachel Minske explore the closed down and closed off parts of Wauwatosa.

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