New Town Success Zone releases five-year report

From its beginnings just as the country fell into a recession to the positive impact on people and statistics several years in, the New Town Success Zone’s five-year report to the community highlights the struggles and successes of the project since it’s inception in 2007. 

The New Town Success Zone (NTSZ) is a collaboration between the City of Jacksonville, Edward Waters College and area non profits — including the Healthy Start Coalition – that aims to support families and their children’s intellectual, emotional and physical growth from the cradle to college in a designated neighborhood of Jacksonville. It is modeled after the successful Harlem Children’s Zone in New York.

One area of focus for the zone is academic success. Several new programs have started at S.P. Livingston Elementary and Eugene Butler Middle School, the areas two schools. Promotion rates, school rankings and parent involvement have all increased over five years.

Improving health and wellness is also a concern. Community health surveys were conducted in 2010 and 2011. Parents had the opportunity to learn skills at Jacksonville’s Baby University, implemented by Shands Jacksonville and funded by the Community Foundation and the Coalition.

The Strengthening the Voices of Women in New Town initiative helped women expand or acquire photography skills and use them to document assets and challenges in the neighborhood. One local grandmother used the project to successfully advocate for a city-constructed fence around a retention pond that posed a hazard for local children near a school bus stop. The project was a collaboration between the Early Childhood Committee of the New Town Success Zone and the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women (MCSOW).

One of the PhotoVoice graduates is featured in the report for her trip to Washington, DC. She attended the National Healthy Start Association meeting in March 2012 where local representatives were able to meet with staff members in the offices of Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL), attend presentations and workshops at the conference and participate in the poster presentation.

Other highlights from the past five years include:

  • A Community Resource Center at the Schell-Sweet Center on the Edward Waters College campus.
  • Success Park, a newly built park and playground offering a safe place to play for neighborhood children.