Monique Quinn, MD, FAAP, Carley Riley, MD, MPP, FAAP
What would it look like for a child to not only be healthy but also thrive and achieve their fullest potential? How do we make this happen for every child–and every family–in Cincinnati, OH? That is the quest of the Mayerson Child Well-Being Initiative (MCWI), led by Dr. Carley Riley who is an Attending Intensivist in our Pediatric ICU. Through city-wide partnerships and collaborative efforts, MCWI strives to generate transformational change in how our communities, organizations, institutions, and systems nurture the well-being of children and youth so that all children and youth may thrive.
One such community partner is the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. Their vision to “build inclusive and joyful environments where all people can reach goals, make friends, and connect to a cause greater than themselves” aligns beautifully with that of MCWI. Together, with the leadership of Dr. Monique Quinn, a Clinical Fellow in our Pediatric ICU mentored by Dr. Riley, we have embarked on a collaborative project to study, measure, and improve sense of belonging and social capital among local YMCA members.
Why sense of belonging and social capital? It is inherent to human nature to want to belong, and a strong sense of belonging (defined as a dynamic emotional attachment that relates individuals to the material and social worlds that they inhabit and experience) has been closely correlated with multiple metrics of social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. Similarly, communities high in social capital (defined as social relations that have productive benefits) demonstrate quicker and more robust responses to crises and foster higher levels of happiness, connection, and mental health in their members. While both constructs have been adequately defined in current literature, efforts to improve a communities’ sense of belonging and social capital have been limited to employment and educational spaces that are inherently demographically restricted. Our work will be novel in our community-driven approach, the development of a tool that is not specific to any single demographic, and the use of such tool for iterative systems change.
Equipped with the understanding that well-being is multidimensional, we hope to explore the social and relational components better through this project. While our work starts at the YMCA, it has potential to be impactful across other community groups or organizations interested in pursuing similar efforts, as well as spread locally and nationally across YMCA centers.