Together we C.A.N. defeat toxic stress


Toxic stress causes long-lasting health problems, especially within the black community. The Magnolia Project’s Community Action Network (C.A.N.) is working to change the lives of the women, babies and families dealing with the effects of toxic stress, one neighborhood at a time in Jacksonville’s urban core.

The C.A.N is a group of 12 community partners whose overall goal is collective impact, which occurs when different organizations join forces to solve specific problems using a common agenda.

The Magnolia Project, a federally-funded Healthy Start initiative that serves to improve the health and well-being of women living in Health Zone 1 during their childbearing years (15-44 years of age), organized the C.A.N. The C.A.N. has aligned their focus on the nullifying the effects of toxic stress and ways of preventing toxic stress in the future. Toxic stress occurs when a child experiences strong and/or frequent prolonged adversity without adequate support. Each federal Healthy Start program is required to have a C.A.N. as part of a national performance measure.

The C.A.N. is currently engaging in conversation regarding the health and social disparities found in Jacksonville’s Health Zone 1, the urban core of the city that is disproportionately impacted by poverty, crime and poor health outcomes. Discussion has also been held on increasing community awareness around the negative effects of toxic stress and the impact it can have on a brain’s development which could in return lead to long-term health and social problems that many residents face.

In November, the C.A.N. partnered with Ability Housing to host a Thanksgiving dinner with the residents of Oakland Terrace Apartments.

“We had dinner with the residents and gave them information about toxic stress,” C.A.N. Coordinator Vanessa Jefferson said. “We don’t want to just go into communities and pass out reading information, we want to educate and motivate, and I think that the dinner was a step in the right direction.”

As a result of the Thanksgiving partnership, the C.A.N. now attends monthly meetings with the residents of Oakland Terrace and other community groups to grow relationships and to discuss strategies and tactics.

The C.A.N. has highlighted five requirements for collective impact:

  1. Common agendas
  2. Shared measurements
  3. Mutually reinforcing activities
  4. Continuous communication
  5. Backbone support

The C.A.N. currently meets on the first Thursday of each month from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at the Magnolia office: 5300 N. Pearl Street (Pearl Plaza) Jacksonville, FL 32208

C.A.N. Partners:

Jacksonville Public Library

Molina Healthcare

Hubbard House

Florida Department of Health Duval County

United Healthcare

New Town Success Zone

Ability Housing

Lutheran Services of Florida

The Magnolia Project