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Combating Heath Barriers Through Collaboration

By Romules Durant, EdD, CEO/Superintendent, Toledo Public Schools

Special to The Truth


It is widely recognized that conditions including poverty, housing, poor water quality, social isolation, unemployment, limited access to healthy foods and lack of family cohesion are all social determinants of health and quality of life. These factors continue to be barriers for our families to lead healthy and productive lives.


In Toledo, Ohio, the median income is roughly $37,000. Currently, seven percent of children who attend Toledo Public Schools are homeless and the city is among the highest in the state for obese adults. It is incumbent upon all of us to combat and invest in the challenges that are negatively impacting so many across Ohio. 


How do we take steps forward to make a meaningful change for our youth and those that live in our communities? It starts with community collaboration and bold visions and itís these simple concepts that You Will Do Better in Toledo is built upon.  


In partnership with Green Bronx Machine, Anthem Inc. awarded 29 Toledo Public Schools with 40 indoor, aeroponic tower gardens that allowed students to grow their own food and gain an appreciation for adding vegetables to their diet. Not only did the students benefit from their hard work, so did their classmates, their families and their community as a whole.


The hands-on activities incorporated elements of math, science, and English in a fresh and engaging way. The program aims to set students on a path to incorporating healthier food and behaviors into their lives and in doing so, paving the way for thriving communities that are health conscious. 


We continue to build the future of our youth through collaborative efforts with Anthem and other community partners that seek quantifiable results. Through the Anthem Toledo Public Schools Family Stabilization Program, operated by Lutheran Social Services of Northwestern Ohio, we have assisted more than 100 residents with rental assistance, housing stabilization and financial support services. This program demonstrates the importance of leaning on others in times of uncertainty. The positive outcomes to this initiative shows our commitment to doing whatís best for our students who otherwise might lose their access to a quality education or support structure as the result of unstable housing.


The challenges that our community faces, were recently highlighted in Generation Growth, an award winning documentary that takes viewers on a journey across the country and addresses the social determinants that impact healthy lifestyles in cities like Toledo. A sense of hope emerges through stories that show the positive impact of communities rallying around those who need it most by cultivating minds and focusing on the future. 


MLK Jr. Academy for Boys and Marshall STEMM Academy are featured in the documentary and their work shows the school districtís revitalization efforts and making the connection between a strong public school system and the community.


Generation Growth was selected for the Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis and the critically acclaimed Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. The documentary has also been submitted for consideration to the Athens International Film and Video Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival taking place in April, 2021. For more information on Generation Growth and to view the documentary film trailer, please visit http://www.generationgrowthdoc.com


You Will Do Better in Toledo is a shining example of what can happen when we come together for the greater good and create avenues for meaningful and impactful change. The ongoing commitment to addressing the social determinants of health, including homelessness and food insecurity, drives us to innovate and develop community relationships that expand access to resources for everyone living in the neighborhoods surrounding our schools. Our continued success and drive to excel is another reason we can all be TPS Proud!



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/10/20 10:14:06 -0500.

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