Together we C.A.N. defeat toxic stress

Dec 15, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments


Toxic stress causes long-lasting health problems, especially within the black community. The Magnolia Project’s Community Action Network (C.A.N.) is working to change the lives of the women, babies and families dealing with the effects of toxic stress, one neighborhood at a time in Jacksonville’s urban core.

The C.A.N is a group of 12 community partners whose overall goal is collective impact, which occurs when different organizations join forces to solve specific problems using a common agenda.

The Magnolia Project, a federally-funded Healthy Start initiative that serves to improve the health and well-being of women living in Health Zone 1 during their childbearing years (15-44 years of age), organized the C.A.N. The C.A.N. has aligned their focus on the nullifying the effects of toxic stress and ways of preventing toxic stress in the future. Toxic stress occurs when a child experiences strong and/or frequent prolonged adversity without adequate support. Each federal Healthy Start program is required to have a C.A.N. as part of a national performance measure.

The C.A.N. is currently engaging in conversation regarding the health and social disparities found in Jacksonville’s Health Zone 1, the urban core of the city that is disproportionately impacted by poverty, crime and poor health outcomes. Discussion has also been held on increasing community awareness around the negative effects of toxic stress and the impact it can have on a brain’s development which could in return lead to long-term health and social problems that many residents face.

In November, the C.A.N. partnered with Ability Housing to host a Thanksgiving dinner with the residents of Oakland Terrace Apartments.

“We had dinner with the residents and gave them information about toxic stress,” C.A.N. Coordinator Vanessa Jefferson said. “We don’t want to just go into communities and pass out reading information, we want to educate and motivate, and I think that the dinner was a step in the right direction.”

As a result of the Thanksgiving partnership, the C.A.N. now attends monthly meetings with the residents of Oakland Terrace and other community groups to grow relationships and to discuss strategies and tactics.

The C.A.N. has highlighted five requirements for collective impact:

  1. Common agendas
  2. Shared measurements
  3. Mutually reinforcing activities
  4. Continuous communication
  5. Backbone support

The C.A.N. currently meets on the first Thursday of each month from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at the Magnolia office: 5300 N. Pearl Street (Pearl Plaza) Jacksonville, FL 32208

C.A.N. Partners:

Jacksonville Public Library

Molina Healthcare

Hubbard House

Florida Department of Health Duval County

United Healthcare

New Town Success Zone

Ability Housing

Lutheran Services of Florida

The Magnolia Project


Make a Difference! Leadership Academy Fall 2016 class graduates

Nov 21, 2016  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

img_2323Eight leaders graduated as part of the Fall 2016 cohort of the Make a Difference! Leadership Academy on November 17, the seventh class to finish the grassroots program, an initiative of the Healthy Start Coalition.

The goal of the Leadership Academy is to support the efforts of local residents to make changes in neighborhood factors that contribute to disparities in health and birth outcomes. The Academy trains individuals and assists them in the development of a Community Action Plan that outlines a specific project to move a community to action.

img_2286The graduating class selected a pilot program to assist families with their greatest self-identified challenges. Project 360 will work with at-risk families in the community to identify barriers and then assist those families for six months to help them achieve their goals. The group is currently testing the program with one family for the next six months, then will work to build sustainability so the pilot project can continue.

Melanie Lawson, Morning Show anchor on News 4 Jax and Coalition Board member, gave the keynote speech at the graduation. She encouraged the graduates to reach people on an emotional level to enact change.

Healthy Start Holiday Wish List

  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

It is the season of giving, and this year the Coalition is collecting new, donated items for families in need. Help us make sure every baby has a healthy start!

Ways you can help:wishlist

  • Diapers and wipes
  • Gift cards (gas cards and grocery cards)
  • Household products: cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, etc
  • Pack N Plays- new
  • JTA bus passes
  • Monetary donations to the Coalition

For more information on how to donate contact Jerail Fennell at 904-723-5422 x127 or

We work hard every day to make sure every baby in Northeast Florida has a healthy start in life. Join the movement!

Guest Post: The Coalition’s work from the perspective of a nurse, graduate student and mom

Nov 18, 2016  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

15094327_1301651366523453_450389998533640759_nSue Seepersaud is a graduate student in nursing at the University of Maryland. She completed her practicum with the Coalition in the fall of 2016, spending time with each program and assisting with a marketing campaign around safe sleep practices. She shares her experience as a nurse and new mom.

As a student in a Public Health Nursing Master’s program, I was very excited when I learned that I would be doing my practicum with the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.  I was familiar with the organization but was unaware of all the benefits and services they offered.  I was also a new mother with an eight-month-old baby girl, so being able to work with individuals who had a passion for improving the health of babies, women and families would make the experience an even better one.

sue-bbwOnce I started my practicum, I realized that the Coalition offered a myriad of services that provided lifelong benefits.  There are nurses that do home visits with mothers and educate them about many topics including breastfeeding, and there are programs offered that assist clients in living healthier lives.  The Coalition also links clients with resources, should they not offer certain services that some individuals may require.  I definitely think that this is an organization that all women and families should know about.

The experience with the Coalition has thus far been a great one.  Learning about the needs of the community and what the Coalition is doing to help has made me want to work with babies, women and families once I graduate.

sueI attended the Coalition’s yearly fundraiser, the Baby Buggy Walk in the Park, and had a wonderful time.  My fiancé and I brought our daughter to the Baby Buggy Walk and enjoyed the event, the cause and the overall positive atmosphere.  We already plan on attending next year’s walk.  I now follow the Coalition on social media and will continue to do so as the posts are pretty informative.  I would urge all pregnant women to take advantage of the services and programs that the Coalition offers because there is no greater joy than delivering and holding a healthy, beautiful baby.

Florida receives a “C” grade in March of Dimes Prematurity Report Card

Nov 17, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

Florida remained at a “C” grade while Duval County received a “D” in the 2016 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, released during Prematurity Awareness Month.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-37-38-pm

Duval County had a preterm birth rate of 11.2 percent, one of the highest in the state.

The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign aims to reduce preterm birth rates across the United States. Premature Birth Report Card grades are assigned by comparing the 2015 preterm birth rate in a state or locality to the March of Dimes goal of 8.1 percent by 2020.

Preterm birth is one of the leading causes of infant deaths in Northeast Florida, especially in the black community. In Florida, the preterm birth rate among black women is 46 percent higher than the rate among all other women.


For more information about the March of Dimes and to read the full report card, click here.