Yesterday morning at around 8:30, volunteers began streaming into the parking lot of the Carriage House East Apartments on Indianapolis' Far Eastside to begin building a new playground for the residential area. These volunteers represented the Finish Line Youth Foundation, the Glick Fund, and residents of the Carriage House East community.
You've been reading about Jump IN for Healthy Kids' participation in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge and we're happy to feature another organization doing great work in greater Lawrence and the far east side, Mt. Carmel Church. Our work in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge is to address childhood overweight and obesity in a four-zip code area using a comprehensive, multi-sector approach. We work with child care providers; schools; and workplaces; and we address food access so that families have healthy, affordable food; and the built environment to ensure that children and families have access to enough opportunities for physical activity. Mt. Carmel resides in that area, and we are happy to support their work as part of our Challenge. Mt. Carmel also has a multi-sector approach to supporting its community, addressing food access, children's after-school activities, community financial needs, and high school education.
A couple of Fridays ago, roughly 80 volunteers descended on an eight-acre patch of land on the southeast side of Lawrence. The land is owned by Monarch Beverage, which already has an impressive campus just to the north. These eight acres Monarch has pledged not to develop; they are the grounds of the Lawrence Community Gardens, founded and led by Sharonna Moore.
This is the last blog post of a three-part series to tell you about a unique elementary school, nestled in Lawrence: Harrison Hill School. That part of Lawrence is economically depressed, and its residents frequently struggle with poverty and the challenges that go with it. But Harrison Hill is unusual as a community school: services that families need are accessible at the school (part 1), and School Community Liaison Neal Gore has developed an exceptionally robust family engagement program (part 2). The third piece of this work is improving kids' health by creating a healthy environment where making good nutrition and physical activity choices are part of daily life.
This is part two of a three-part series to tell you about a unique elementary school, nestled in Lawrence: Harrison Hill School. That part of Lawrence is economically depressed, and its residents frequently struggle with poverty and the challenges that go with it. Thanks to Community Liaison Neal Gore, family engagement is front and center at Harrison Hill, and that engagement has enabled the school to teach families healthy habits regarding nutrition and physical activity on a collaborative scale that we at Jump IN haven’t seen at any other schools. Neal is interested in not only creating a healthy school, he’s also trying to create a healthier neighborhood.
He’s doing it by opening up the school outside of school hours and invited families to participate in dozens of different activities for Family Engagement Nights. He calls this part of his job, “my most fun thing!” Family Engagement nights are six-week-long sessions that happen four times a year. The school is in its fourth year of offering them and on any given Family Engagement night as many as a hundred people might be participating. These are free, and they include a sit-down dinner with the other families, sponsored by Chef Suzanne (Neal has calculated that she has donated more than 10,000 meals over the last four years – wow!).
This is part one of a three-part series to tell you about a unique elementary school, nestled in Lawrence: Harrison Hill School. That part of Lawrence is economically depressed, and its residents frequently struggle with poverty and the challenges that go with it. Family engagement is front and center at Harrison Hill, and that engagement has enabled the school to teach families healthy habits regarding nutrition and physical activity on a collaborative scale that we at Jump IN haven’t seen at any other schools. The driver of this engagement is Neal Gore, the school’s Community Liaison. Neal’s wife has been a teacher at the school for a long time, and their family has a strong belief in “being present,” meaning that they live in the neighborhood where the school is, send their kids to the school, and are committed to engaging as community members - as Neal puts it, “living where you’re making a difference, not outside of it.” Neal joined Harrison Hill four years ago, when the school was applying to the United Way of Central Indiana for a Student Success grant to model the school as a “community school.” Neal was part of the group working on the grant, and when the school got the grant, Neal joined the staff to implement it. It was a sizable grant, over $400,000 over three years. It’s now one year past the end of the grant, and Neal has worked hard to make the concept self-sustaining.
Did you know? Jump IN for Healthy Kids is fortunate and honored to be one of the 50 organizations competing for the $250,000 Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge. The Challenge is a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties. The partnership empowers small to mid-size U.S. cities and counties to create a positive health impact. 50 communities were selected by competitive process to be part of the Challenge, and Jump IN's community demonstration project in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside (GLFE) was selected as one of the 50. Jump IN's work and the work of our partners is broad and deep, and we've listed nearly everything below that we're up to in GLFE, so it's a bit of a long read, but we really wanted to tell you about our work. It's a lot, and there are wonderful partners and grassroots efforts that are helping improve the health of residents every day. If we are fortunate enough to win the Challenge, the prize money will go directly into the GLFE community to continue and expand our work.
When Vida Benjamin came to Promiseland Child Care center on the far eastside of Indianapolis, she’d been recently laid off and was interested in volunteering and being with the children, never expecting she’d stumble on a new passion. Clearly gifted with the children, one day she was asked if she might be interested in joining Promiseland on staff, and today she’s been its director for over four years. Promiseland is a Paths to QUALITY level 3 licensed, registered, child care ministry, housed in Calvary Temple "The Caring Place” church. Promiseland serves 65 children, ages 6 weeks through 5 years, and has a special program for older children during school breaks.
A couple of Mondays ago at the Sharing Place food pantry in Lawrence Township it was 11 degrees outside and a line was already forming for the pantry 30 minutes before it was scheduled to open. For the people waiting, this would be their one opportunity to access food from the Sharing Place all month. Until recently, the Sharing Place didn’t give a lot of thought to the nutrition of the food its shoppers were accessing – food is food for someone who is hungry. But Jump IN for Healthy Kids’ Community Demonstration Project in Lawrence and the Far Eastside had changed that, and changed the pantry’s layout, signage, and offerings for the better.