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Interact staff members learn about equity at national summit

Dec 7, 2015

In its efforts to learn more about health equity and the social determinants of health, Interact for Health sent a team of staff and board members to Los Angeles for the PolicyLink Equity Summit in October. Staff members arrived a day early to visit programs that are making a difference right now in South Los Angeles.

We saw many exciting programs, such as a parking lot that the Social Justice Learning Institute converted into a tower garden to provide access to fresh whole foods in Inglewood. (See photo at right). The Freemont Wellness Center, the school-based health center at Fremont High School, features a 1.5 acre community garden operated by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust. The school uses the garden for science classes and for after-school programs to introduce students to growing food. Community members can buy a plot to grow food and use the park space that is part of the garden. We met many inspired leaders from those organizations as well as the Brotherhood Crusade YouthSource Center and the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation.

The learning continued once the summit got underway. We were among 3,000 people from across the nation, including 15 others from Greater Cincinnati, who were challenged to think differently and step outside our comfort zones in working for equity. The summit, whose theme was “all in for inclusion, justice and prosperity,” covered topics such as racial and economic inclusion, the revival of U.S. cities, and the need to build alliances in activism across race, place and generations.

During the summit, PolicyLink President and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell defined equity using the equity manifesto. It concludes: This is equity: Just and fair inclusion into society in which all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential. Unlocking the promise of the nation by unleashing the promise in us all.

The opening video set the stage for the summit, describing the current state of America. If we are to grow as a nation, equity has to be in the forefront.

Some of the recurring themes at the summit included realizing the importance and power of mobilizing people; strengthening young people through education, mentoring, job training and skill-building; and investing in economic justice for the sustainability and growth of the region.

In the coming months, we will take what we learned at the summit and, in partnership with the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, we will examine the state of equity in our region. The power and solutions are in the community. We must recognize that and help foster success in community organizations. Equity is not a one-time thing. All decisions affect equity and we must be in it for the long haul.

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