Posts filed under ‘Community News’
Last month, the Minority Reporter, a weekly publication that serves the African American population in Rochester, came out with an issue that was dedicated to health care. It highlights some of the health challenges facing the city’s residents (particularly the disparities in many health indicators) and profiles some of the programs that are addressing these issues. You can see a PDF of the issue here.
After becoming Principal of an urban, high-needs elementary school in Rochester, I set out to “level the playing field” for my school’s children and community. After raising nearly seven million dollars, replacing almost the entire school teaching staff, and creating numerous school/community partnerships, I noticed that I still had a core of children with critically serious learning and behavioral deficits. Puzzled by this, I was the first principal known to review my school children’s public health records, and what I found horrified me. What follows is the last of a three-part story of the epic battle with what I call “the invisible and silent monster that devours our children”. — Ralph Spezio
“Child Advocacy and a Community’s Heroic Response”
In Rochester, NY, our community has not only “put a face” on this silent and invisible monster through education, we have mobilized ourselves to eventually slay the terrible beast that has created carnage and devoured so many of our children in the past. In our community-wide advocacy for children, we have evolved and surpassed many other communities throughout New York State and America in regard to how we view and solve the health issues of our children.
Far too often, many communities visualize problems in what can be called silo-thinking. That is, it is the common believe in many communities that children’s health is the sole responsibility of the Health Department, and children’s safety is the sole responsibility of the Police Department, etc. and in Rochester and Monroe County, we have clearly stepped forward to say that these issues are much too complex and inter-related for us to be myopic or naively simplistic in finding solutions. In any community, I believe that we are all accountable for the health and safety of our children.
The Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning has many treasured partners at the government as well as grass-roots levels. The Monroe County Health Department certainly has provided courageous and visionary leadership. Our contributing partners also come from individuals, community organizations, foundations, the business community, as well as grass-roots neighborhood associations. The University of Rochester Medical Center has been a long-standing advocate and partner.
Our City and County governments have also shown courageous leadership in creating new paths forward for the advocacy of child health. The City of Rochester passed the first City Housing Ordinance in the state for primary prevention of childhood lead poisoning, and the Rochester City School District just passed the first primary prevention School Board policy in New York State and one of the most comprehensive in the nation to protect children. State legislators from the Rochester region are on the threshold of passing a major state law for primary prevention of lead poisoning and we expect that this law will become a reality in the 2008 state legislative session.
Even though Rochester/Monroe County is on the national forefront in the work to provide healthy homes for children and families to help eliminate chronic diseases such as asthma and the ravages of lead poisoning, there is much more work to be completed locally. We must celebrate and secure the accomplishments and progress that we have made as a community to date, and we must monitor this progress and evaluate its ongoing effectiveness.
Relentless child advocacy, primary prevention, and the promotion of healthy environments and healthy lifestyles need to be a central focus of everyone in our society. It is my belief that any civilized society is measured primarily by how well it takes care of its children. If the adults within that society do not mobilize to protect children, who will? Children do not have an organized voice. They can not lobby on their own behalf. They have very little control in regard to their environment. They rely almost entirely upon adults.
In Rochester/ Monroe County, I believe that we have a lot to be proud of in regard to our collective work in primary prevention of child health and safety. We still have a long way yet to go, but by “linking arms” and partnering, by sharing responsibility and accountability, and by joining together to search and find critical solutions, we will find our real success as a community. This success will be measured, not only in the excellent health of our children, but also in their undiminished potential for a happy and productive future.
James Norman, the president and CEO of Action for a Better Community, a Rochester-based “community action agency” and frequent collaborator with the Medical Center on a number of projects, has a piece in this week’s Democrat and Chronicle about his organization’s activities.
During May, Community Action month, more than 1,000 grass-roots agencies nationwide celebrate the victories in the war against poverty and make a special effort to raise awareness about the challenges still facing communities.
The National Community Action Partnership in Washington, D.C., of which Action for a Better Community Inc. is a member, launched an ambitious campaign in January titled “Rooting Out Poverty.” This bold initiative draws from the experience of the national network of community action agencies. Including five action themes, the campaign is a call to action, inviting local agencies like ABC to take this national campaign to the local level. The five themes are:
- Maximize participation.
- Build an economy that works for everyone.
- Invest for the future.
- Maximize equality of opportunities.
- Ensure healthy people and places.
These themes are only the framework; the real work can only be done locally, tapping into this community’s ingenuity and collaborative spirit to find solutions for our unique challenges. (more…)
The Rochester Regional Community Design Center is hosting David Boehlke, a founding member of the Healthy Neighborhoods Group, on Thursday, April 24 from 7 to 9PM at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 111 N. Chestnut Street. He will speak on “Healthy Neighborhoods: a Revitalization Strategy”. Tickets are $15 at the door or $10 in advance. For more information call 586-6650.
David Boehlke is a nationally recognized expert in neighborhood revitalization and the country’s leading authority on Healthy Neighborhoods. David has worked in more than 125 communities over his 30-year career. He has served in numerous capacities as consultant and executive director of several nonprofit organizations. He holds degrees in geography and architecture from Johns Hopkins and Harvard. David has spearheaded Healthy Neighborhoods work throughout the United States, has written seminal works on the topic, and has trained many of the nation’s leading practitioners of neighborhood revitalization.
You can read more about David and his work here.
News Release from URMC:
The diverse grassroots partnership that was the catalyst for Rochester’s historic lead law will now serve as a model for other upstate New York communities grappling with high rates of lead poisoning.
A $139,771 grant from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) will enable staff from the University of Rochester Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) to work with non-profit organizations in Auburn/Cayuga County, Elmira/Chemung County and Oneida County to help build lead poisoning prevention coalitions in these communities that will focus on planning, community education, and primary prevention.
“The goal is to help coalitions in these cities to achieve the critical mass and focus necessary to secure ongoing funding and sustainability,” said Katrina Korfmacher, Ph.D., Community Outreach Coordinator for the EHSC. “Ultimately, we want to create a statewide model of how communities can come together to effectively address their environmental health problems with strategies that are tailored to their individual community.”
The model for these efforts will be the Rochester Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning (CPLP). The CPLP – which is also a participant in the project – is an education and advocacy organization composed of diverse individuals and community organizations that has worked since to reduce the city’s high rates of childhood lead poisoning. The CPLP will provide technical assistance and advice to community groups in each of the three counties to develop their local capacity in lead poisoning prevention.