Board member Shanita Brown featured speaker at Community of Hope event

Board member Shanita Brown at the Make a Difference! Leadership Academy graduation ceremony

Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Board member Shanita Brown was a featured speaker at the Community of Hope event on Sept. 12 that focused on improving the 32209 zip code. Brown, a graduate of both the Make a Noise! Make a Difference! lay health advocate program and the Make a Difference! Leadership Academy, shared her story about growing up in the area and the challenges she faced.

The “Commnunity of Hope” event, held at Edward Waters College, was organized by the Department of Children and Families and intended to mobilize community support to sustain and enhance the well-being of children and families in the zip code. The community has poor health outcomes, high rates of poverty and is where 1 in 4 murders in the city occur.

Brown, who joined the Board in 2013 as a consumer, dropped out of school  early in high school to take care of her siblings and is now raising seven children in the neighborhood. She graduated from the Leadership Academy last year and is in the process of obtaining her GED.

The Leadership Academy supports the efforts of local residents to make changes in neighborhood factors that contribute to disparities in health and birth outcomes.

The program uses a curriculum developed by the University of Arizona, but adds supplemental information on racism, poverty, infant mortality, local Jacksonville icons and takes field trips to places like Kingsley Plantation and the MOSH RACE exhibit. At the end of each series, participants develop an action plan, take part in a graduation and receive a certificate.

The Leadership Academy is funded mainly through the Chartrand Foundation.

Also check out: The work of the Magnolia Project, a federal Healthy Start project that serves five zip codes in the urban core, including 32209, was featured on News4Jax as part of their coverage of the event.