Category Archives: Behavior change

Feb 27 2014

This App Will Lead You to Water and Let You Drink


Much of the country is still facing at least a few more weeks of winter weather, so harbingers of spring are especially welcome. In Washington, D.C., one of those signs is an increase in the number of “TapIt” posters on the city’s metro system letting city dwellers and visitors know where they can get clean drinking water throughout the area for their reusable water bottles. TapIt is a six-year-old national network of cafes, coffee shops and some retail stores that offer free drinking water to anyone who asks and brings their own vessel to fill and drink from. Partners that have helped with costs often include local water utility companies.

"This network protects the environment, as well as people’s wallets," said TapIt Campaign Director Will Schwartz in a recent release. "In fact, users could save up to $700 per year if they were to use TapIt instead of buying a bottle of water each day."

Other reasons to actively look for easy access to water in the community include:

  • A 2012 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that replacing sugary drinks with water resulted in a 2 to 2.5 percent weight loss for study participants during a six month clinical trial.
  • In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a parents advisory urging them to make water the primary form of hydration for kids.
  • A 2013 survey published in the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s journal Preventing Chronic Disease found that low drinking water intake is common and associated with known unhealthful behaviors such as insufficient physical activity and unhealthy eating.

Local TapIt apps, available via the internet or on Android and iPhone smartphone platforms, fix on a user’s location and display a map of nearby outlets that offer water. Users click on map markers for names of locations, addresses and distances. Information includes beverage specifics such as whether the offered water is filtered, chilled, self-serve, or needs to be requested. For example, at the Birchwood Café in Minneapolis, Minn. consumers help themselves to chilled, filtered tap water from the soda dispenser, while at the Village Bean Co. in Des Moines, Iowa, water drinkers must ask wait staff for water and will be offered room-temperature, non-filtered tap water.

National outlets welcoming TapIt users include REI outdoor clothing retail stores and Whole Food supermarkets.

Also, if you don’t have a computer or smartphone at the ready, many of the water partners post TapIt stickers on storefront windows or doors to let people know they’re invited in for a drink.

>>Bonus Link: Read an FAQ on the TapIt program.

Jan 11 2012

Study: CeaseFire Model Can Stop Epidemic of Gun Violence, Replicated in Baltimore

Men talking in lobby of metro system.

>>EDITOR'S NOTE: On 9/13/2012 CeaseFire changed its name to Cure Violence.

New research released today reinforces the concept that gun violence can be reduced and prevented by taking a public health approach to the problem. Findings from a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health show that shootings and killings in even America’s most violent communities can be reduced using the CeaseFire model—a model that employs disease control and behavior change strategies to reduce violence. CeaseFire employs ex-offenders who have unique credibility with community members and effectiveness in getting people to rethink the impulse to resolve disputes using guns.

Safe Streets Baltimore was launched by the Baltimore City Health Department in 2007 as a CeaseFire replication site, and research released today represents the first rigorous study of a replication of the CeaseFire model. In Baltimore, researchers found the Safe Streets program cut homicides by more than half in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. An earlier Department of Justice evaluation found 41 to 73 percent drops in shootings and killings in CeaseFire zones in Chicago.

NewPublicHealth spoke with CeaseFire founder, Gary Slutkin, about the CeaseFire model earlier this year. “If you release yourself from preconceived ideas about good and bad people and just look at what is actually happening, empirically you see that [violence] spreads like any other infectious disease,” said Slutkin. In another interview, Tio Hardiman, director for CeaseFire Illinois, commented on the CeaseFire approach, “You have to be able to detect conflicts before they arrive and before they escalate.”

Findings from the CeaseFire replication study in Baltimore include:

  • The Safe Streets program cut homicides by more than half in the Cherry Hill neighborhood.
  • In communities studied where Safe Streets wasn’t put into place, young people were seven times more likely to think it is okay to use a gun to settle disputes, compared to young people in Safe Streets neighborhoods.
  • Sites structured to follow the CeaseFire model most closely performed better than sites that deviated from the model. For example, sites that managed the program out of a single location appeared to have a greater impact on reducing shootings and killings than those spread across multiple neighborhoods.
  • The program was associated with reductions in gun violence in 3 of the 4 neighborhoods where Safe Streets was implemented.

UPDATE: Watch Daniel Webster, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, talk about the study.

Because of the promising results seen in this evaluation, the Safe Streets program will be expanding, having received a new $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that will help bring the program to additional Baltimore neighborhoods.

>>Bonus: Read a Q&A with Kristin Schubert, director and a specialist within RWJF on violence prevention, on efforts to prevent the spread of violence.