Richmond hosts a summit on children and youth
on May 6, 2011
More than 150 educators, community leaders, and representatives of foundations and non-profits met in Richmond this week for the second annual Northern California Summit on Children and Youth.
The event, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, brought presenters from throughout Northern California to debate how to improve community health. During workshops, lectures and discussions, participants shared their experiences and ideas on how to improve the health conditions of the youngest members of society.
One of the initiatives, which met with very positive response, was the Healthshack Project, introduced by members of Wind Youth Services from Sacramento. The idea of the project is to help homeless and at-risk youth to create an online, personal health record, where they can store all their important documents like birth certificates, IDs, and medical histories.
“Homeless and foster youth are moving a lot. They often don’t have access to—or they lost—important records, so many times when they turn 18 they have nothing,” said Melissa Binger, Healthshack Project Manager. “In our electronic database they can store all the important information they worry about losing. They are also empowered to take the control over their health care.”
Binger believes that thanks to events like the summit in Richmond, Healthshack’s idea can be shared with others. “We’ve been developing this concept for several years and now we know it is successful and sustainable,” she said. “We also know that there is a lot of youth out there that need something like Healthshack, so we are trying to replicate it in other youth-serving organizations, not only in Sacramento but really all over California.”
Binger and her colleagues presented the initiative during one of many workshop sessions during the summit. Participants could also hear about improving communities by developing digital connections, increasing public engagement or implementing policies that promote physical activity.
“It is a great opportunity to talk about some critical things for the Richmond community,” said Jennifer B. Lyle, director of collaborative services at Blocks For Kids, a group focusing on children and families in the northern sector of the Iron Triangle. “I believe spaces like this are starting points for conversations and for thinking,” she added.
One of the main summit’s events on Thursday was the speech made by Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of the California Endowment, a health foundation established in 1996. His criticism of government policies concerning youth was rewarded with applause. “The prospect of young people from this country has gone from bad to worse,” he said. “The public believes that nothing works for black juveniles and the best thing is to put them in jail and keep them there. We need a new narrative and the new frame.”
Joan Davies, president and CEO of Richmond Community Foundation, which was the summit’s main organizer, thinks the event was a great success.
“For me, as for the host of this summit, it is wonderfully refreshing to watch the desire to continue the dialogue,” she said. “I’m particularly happy there is a healthy dialogue and the very healthy collaboration going on among non-profit organizations, civic leadership, foundations and corporate supporters.”
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