Sunnylands and DAP Health’s storytelling project raises awareness of health equity

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

In a first-of-its kind partnership, Sunnylands Center & Gardens and DAP Health are offering the public an audio and visual storytelling project that examines how shame – of one’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or financial status – can prevent people from accessing the health care they need.

The Health Equity Series, a video and six audio recordings, including a meditation by wellness expert Deepak Chopra, will be available for three weeks starting Wednesday, May 12, to guests visiting Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage.

Admission to the gardens is free. Guests may access the recordings by using their smart phones or other mobile devices to scan QR codes that have been printed on colorful signs placed throughout the nine acres of desert gardens.

“The serenity of Sunnylands Center & Gardens is the perfect setting to pause to consider that health equity is a pressing local and global concern,” says David Brinkman, DAP Health’s chief executive officer. “We believe that storytelling and story listening offers an opportunity to explore how ending poverty and stigma can help us truly transform our world.”

The project is the first in a new program at Sunnylands called STORY, said Michaeleen Gallagher, director of education and environmental programs at Sunnylands.

“STORY partners Sunnylands with community groups and nonprofits to amplify under-represented voices,” Gallagher said. “In the Health Equity Series, the story evolves as you walk through the gardens. Utilizing text, images, and embedded QR codes, visitors can go deeper and deeper into the story at each stop.”

The stories are presented by DAP Health’s caregivers and experts. In their own words, they help demystify terms like “health equity” and “social determinants of health” in ways everyone can understand. Important themes include:

  • How shame can prevent anyone from accessing healthcare and other services they need.
  • Racial equity is necessary for health equity.
  • Healthcare networks must meet people where they are in their life journey.
  • Discrimination against the poor, LGBTQ individuals, and racial minorities increases the likelihood people will avoid essential care.
  • It is possible to end poverty and discrimination in the Coachella Valley.

“Health equity means that everyone has the opportunity to be healthy based on their needs, not on their ability to pay. It also means no one should feel like an outsider once they come inside to see a doctor or psychologist,” said Brinkman. “But, getting people to take that first step can be difficult,” he said.

Sunnylands Center & Gardens, at 37977 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage, is open free of charge from 8:30 am to 4 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. The Health Equity Series will be available when Sunnylands is open from May 12 to May 30.

Afterward, the collection of stories will be available on both the Sunnylands website and DAP Health’s iTunes channel.