At a press conference on May 8, plans were unfolded detailing a marketing campaign focusing on promoting health and safety in East Baltimore neighborhoods. The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute (UHI) teamed with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Department of Graphic Design, The Men's Center, and East Baltimore community leaders to develop a communications plan to encourage healthy lifestyle choices.
A group of 15 MICA students in an advanced graphic design class led by Bernard Canniffe made the development of the UHI campaign their work for an entire semester. The goal was to create educational campaigns focusing on three issues raised by studies conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers focusing on African-American hypertension, the Dash Diet (a highly successful dietary approach to hypertension management), and child safety. MICA students worked closely with UHI and community leaders, including Leon Purnell, director of the Men's Center in East Baltimore, to create communication approaches that would be well-received by audiences in the School's neighborhood.
The campaigns incorporate a wide array of communication vehicles, including logos, billboards, t-shirts, mugs, and even a fully equipped mobile education unit focused on child safety in the home. In addition to the graphic design elements, students are also developing a 3D computer model of the "safety bus," which will be unveiled at an event in June at the Maryland Science Center.
MICA students also developed a new graphic identity for The Men's Center, which utilizes imagery from West African culture to communicate the Center's goal and mission; an awareness/prevention campaign to promote healthy lifestyles to prevent and control hypertension; conceptualized a new name for the Dash Diet to prevent any confusion with the downtown shuttle service currently using that name; and developed a full-scale marketing campaign to promote the diet, which Hopkins researchers have shown to be extremely effective in controlling hypertension. They also created an identity and logo for a bus that will travel around the East Baltimore community to promote child safety in the home. "I would stand behind any one of these individual designs that my students created for this project," said Canniffe. "The Urban Health Institute obtained thinking comparable to that of an established agency from this group of emerging designers."
One of the major goals of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute is to create an infrastructure both for Johns Hopkins and East Baltimore to help address the community's critical health needs. The partnership is intended to complement existing community outreach programs and services initiated by Hopkins.