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Mid-City CAN Blog

Teams in Action: Building Healthy Communities

Building Healthy Communities: City Heights
September 2011
TCE Program Manager Steve Eldred urges action, continued teamwork
School attendance team launches campaign around new vaccine law
Crawford to teach about safe sex throughout year using Core tie-in
Mid-City CAN Youth Council ramps up skate-park campaign
BHC Americorps members finishing training, at City Heights sites soon
Coordinating Council member Becky Modesto serves to stay connected
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TCE Program Manager Steve Eldred urges action, continued teamwork

Steve Eldred, program manager, The California Endowment

Steve Eldred

The California Endowment is very grateful for the sustained energy, creativity, and commitment of City Heights residents and organizational partners in pursuing the goals of Building Healthy Communities. We believe that significant policy and systems changes to improve community health are possible, and that the steps that momentum teams and grantees are taking now will result in lasting change. Many of these efforts are still in formative or early implementation stages. The Endowment looks forward to learning from these efforts and to identifying opportunities that build upon these early strategies to support stronger and more targeted advocacy on specific policy issues that have been prioritized by the community.

Effective collaboration is essential for our success. Open, transparent communication among all partners and stakeholders is necessary to maximize coordination of effort, to learn from each other, to update plans and priorities as new challenges and opportunities emerge, and to achieve shared community victories. To facilitate sharing of information about City Heights Building Healthy Communities projects, we have posted grantee workplans on the CalConnect website. Click here to create a free account to view the workplans.

Anyone reviewing workplans should be aware that these are "living" documents that are intended to change throughout project implementation - this includes specific activities, timelines, areas of focus, etc. The posted versions will often not be the most current depiction of specific project activities. But they can provide a good overview of project strategy and intended results. Grantees are accountable solely to The California Endowment for compliance with workplans and reporting on progress in achieving the planned Outcomes.

I want to thank Mid-City CAN for facilitating two Community Conversations to be held at the City Heights Wellness Center to provide opportunities to discuss The California Endowment's grant-making and to elicit community feedback:

  • 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Oct. 11: Building Healthy Communities Community Conversation at Networking Council, targeting nonresidents
  • 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 15: Building Healthy Communities Community Conversation public event, targeting residents

School attendance team launches
campaign around new vaccine law

Mid-City CAN's School Attendance Momentum Team is campaigning to make sure that the "no shot, no school" rule doesn't deny City Heights students opportunities for learning. The rule is one name for a new California law that requires all 7-12 graders to get the whooping cough vaccine within 30 days of the start of school.

The team members distributed information to students at Crawford Educational Complex during registration week and also are asking the County of San Diego to add additional City Heights clinics to insure everyone who wants a shot can get one.

"It's just a matter of accessibility," said Iddo Gelle, co-chair of the school attendance momentum team.

At the tables, group members passed out informational packets to students and parents. The information included what's in the shots, what happens to those who get them and what happens to those who don't, Gelle said.

Members also talked to students who didn't want to get shots about how to opt-out and still keep their eligibility to attend school.

The group also met with San Diego School Board president Richard Barrera to try to determine the number of students that still need to get their vaccine.

Gelle was heartened by the board's receptiveness.

"It's exciting because they want to work with us," she said.

The group members' long-term vision is to have the County focus more on communities like City Heights.

"Next time there is a mandate, we're asking the County to do a better job of supporting it," she said.

Iddo Gelle and Faiza Ahmed

Iddo Gelle and Faiza Ahmed are both members of the School Attendance Momentum Team, which is campaigning to make sure that Crawford students don't miss classes because of a state law that requires students to be vaccinated.

Crawford to teach about safe sex throughout year using Core tie-in

Core is an event that the Mid-City CAN Teen Sexual Health Momentum Team organizes to promote safe sex practices for students. Now teachers at Crawford's School of Community Health and Medical Practices want to use Core as a theme for their project-based learning curriculum, said Carolyn Pinces, co-chair of the momentum team.

"The history teacher is going to be focused on healthy relationships/healthy-family dynamics," she said, giving one example of how the curriculum would be structured. "This is really cool. He's going to have students going through their family tree and research how the concept of a family has changed over time -- how now it includes [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] families."

Two other teachers will teach about subjects like human trafficking, healthy relationships and sexually transmitted diseases.

Adding the curriculum is something that Crawford teachers initiated.

"It was the product of making really effective connections with the teachers," she said. The momentum team put "on a successful event that was different and innovative so it really just grabbed their attention."

But informing is only part of the group's mission.

"I know that [Building Healthy Communities] and also Mid-city CAN really push for structural change," Pinces said. "I feel like this is just that, because we're changing curriculum and we're changing the way students and youth think about sexual health."

The group's long-term goal is to expand to other City Heights schools and make students' view of sex "not as taboo as it is and to make it something that we talk about in schools and in the classroom," she said.

Carolyn Pinces Mid-City CAN Teen Sexual Health

Carolyn Pinces speaks at the Mid-City CAN Teen Sexual Health Momentum Team's Core event in May at Crawford Educational Complex. More than 300 students attended the event and learned about safe sex.

Mid-City CAN Youth Council
ramps up skate-park campaign

The Mid-City CAN Youth Council is working to create a skate park where young people can exercise in a safe, outdoor environment in City Heights.

"There has to be a space that the youth can go to," said Angeli Hernandez, 18, a youth council member. "Here in City Heights a lot of people seem to be interested in skateboarding."

After researching other parks and assessing local skaters' needs, the group has created a vision for a 10,000-square-feet skate park with various structures appropriate for all levels of skateboarder.

"The skate park is for the community," said Mark Tran, Mid-City CAN's Youth Community Organizer. It's a place "where parents can bring out their children, adults can skateboard alongside young people. Ultimately, it's just a space that is there for the community to use and take advantage of."

As part of the groups' advocacy efforts, members went to a City of San Diego Engineering and Capital Projects Department meeting about different proposed uses for a minipark at Central Avenue between Dwight and Landis Streets and argued against making part of it a skate park.

Tran explained the group's strategy in arguing against a skate park at the site.

"It's small," he said. "I think the location itself presents a challenge. It isn't close to any transportation lines."

Currently, most of the youth council's work is focusing on research for the campaign. However, members feel that they can't wait long.

"You have to put the well-being and health of community residents at the front, so a skate park would obviously answer most of those questions and concerns," Tran said.

BHC Americorps members finishing training, at City Heights sites soon

The BHC Americorps members went through pre-service training throughout the early part of the month of September, said Mark Tran, Mid-City CAN's Youth Organizer.  They will wrap up the trainings this afternoon, Friday Sept. 16, 2011. During training, they got more information about the community and the population they are serving, as well as techniques and best practices regarding effective mentorship.
Starting Monday, Sept. 19, City Heights residents should start seeing BHC Americorps members in the community.
They will be at three different sites, including three members at the International Rescue Committee, one at the AjA Project and one at Crawford Community Connection.
The positions will be fully funded for three years in a partnership between AmeriCorps and The California Endowment and will focus on healthy youth development.

Coordinating Council member Becky Modesto serves to stay connected


Becky Modesto
Becky Modesto

Coordinating Council member Becky Modesto loves being able to see "the larger picture" in City Heights.

The Swan Canyon resident is serving her second term on the council. She has been on it for almost three years.

"I really enjoy being connected with all the nonprofits' efforts," she said. "Being able to be on the same page as them and being able to share concerns with the residents and figuring out ways to get involved" was really gratifying.

For residents who might be considering running for the council, Modesto has straight-forward advice.

"We need your voice," she said. "It does make a difference. It is a great way to be able to connect and be able to impact the vision of City Heights."





The California Endowment

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The Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's mission is to create a safe, productive,Quotation (Right)
and healthy community through collaboration, advocacy, and organizing.

Fiscal sponsor Mission Edge San Diego.