News Items from UNC Greensboro

120716feature_relationshipsinitiativeThe Guilford County Healthy Relationships Initiative (HRI) will make a great impact in our community, starting in two months.

The HRI is a first-of-its-kind, community-wide effort developed by the Phillips Foundation in partnership with the UNCG Department of Counseling and Educational Development to improve relational health across Guilford County. The initiative will officially launch in February 2017 at the conclusion of its research and development phase.

U.S. Census and National Historical Geographical Information System (NHGIS) data indicate significant growth in relationship distress among Guilford County residents. In 2013 and 2014, Guilford County led the state in domestic violence homicides, and in 2015, the Guilford County Family Justice Center assisted nearly 5,000 primary and secondary victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child maltreatment, and elder abuse.

“Unhealthy relationships, particularly within the family context, threaten the stability of our society’s foundation,” said Elizabeth Phillips, executive director of Phillips Foundation. “With the integration of the HRI’s programming and ‘upstream’ interventions into the service platforms of our partner organizations, we plan to democratize best practices and resources from the clinic environment to the broader culture. Phillips Foundation is excited to set this vision in motion and to enhance a positive community culture across Guilford County that values relationship, ultimately preventing trauma and dysfunction in the home.”

Phillips Foundation brought the concept of the Healthy Relationships Initiative to the UNCG Department of Counseling and Educational Development, which has since implemented research and development of the original program involving special emphasis on reaching distressed or vulnerable populations served by existing Phillips Foundation grantee organizations.

“Phillips Foundation has made great strides in improving the well-being of Guilford County residents, and we are grateful for their support and partnership on this important preventative investment,” said Dr. Christine E. Murray, associate professor at UNCG’s Department of Counseling and Educational Development. “Launching the HRI will allow us to utilize and disperse effective tools and skills to ensure that families are safe and supportive places for children to develop into successful, contributing members of society.”

In addition to Counseling & Educational Development, faculty from three other departments at UNCG are involved in HRI, Murray notes: Dr. Rick Bunch in Geography, Dr. Anthony Chow in Library and Information Studies, and Dr. Julie Mendez Smith in Psychology.

An HRI Steering Committee met over the last eight months to inform the planning of this initiative. The committee includes representatives from Phillips Foundation grantee organizations, governmental entities, and many other non-profits.

The HRI Steering Committee and UNCG researchers have developed a multi-year, strategic plan for the HRI to address local community needs via three main components: community mobilization, educational programming, and social marketing.

Campus Weekly will have a post next semester as this initiative is launched.

To stay informed about the HRI, follow its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/guilfordHRI.

Visual: Christine Murray with a student at Curry Building.

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