Make a Difference! Leadership Academy: Why eat healthy?

Oct 19, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

While healthy eating is vital to an overall healthy life, the challenge many people face is knowing where to purchase healthier eating options. The Make a Difference! Leadership Academy Fall 2015 graduating class  created a year-long plan to inform different communities about the benefits and where to find healthier eating choices.screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-2-45-31-pm

The Leadership Academy is a 16-week course, that trains grassroots leaders to make an impact in their communities. The goal of the Leadership Academy is to inspire everyone in the community to make better decisions when it comes to health.

There are two cohorts of the Leadership Academy per year. After graduating from the course, each year members chooses a community project to work on collaboratively. The Leadership Academy fall 2015 members chose to focus their efforts on helping individuals and families who receive SNAP/EBT understand the benefits of eating healthier. The members also wanted to inform the community of the local farmer’s markets and produce stands that accept SNAP/EBT benefits.

The members created and distributed posters and information cards that outlined the benefits of eating healthy and list different locations that accept SNAP/EBT benefits. The posters were given to members at each site, to be given to clients and participants. These locations include: The Magnolia Project, Jacksonville Housing Authority, the local libraries, Clara White Mission Center, United Healthcare and UF Health Jacksonville.

To learn more about the Leadership Academy and how you can become a leader, contact 904-723-5422


Breastfeeding: An extra soldier to fight breast cancer

Oct 18, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

image-1Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer women suffer from and according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1:8 women are affected by some form of breast cancer. Research has proven that breastfeeding is one of many methods that can be use to reduce a women’s risk of breast cancer.  Breast cancer is a fight that many women are continuing to battle, and with new research and continued education, more women are winning the fight against breast cancer and continuing to live healthy lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers many different ways women can reduce their risk of breast cancer. Keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake and getting more sleep at nighttime are amongst the ways women can reduce their risk of breast cancer. Another option that can reduce a women’s risk of breast cancer is by breastfeeding. The CDC recommends all women breastfeed, if possible.

Breast milk is the best milk, not only for baby but for mom as well. For baby, breast milk reduces risk of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome and respiratory tract infection. For mom, producing breast milk reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, according to the CDC.

For more information about breastfeeding and to find support, visit the Coalition’s breastfeeding page. #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth

Addressing toxic stress

Oct 10, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments


Sabrina Willis giving a presentation at the Healthy Start Epic Conference

The Magnolia Project is offering free presentations to local businesses, churches and organizations that would like to learn more about the life course, social determinant of health and toxic stress.  These presentations can be scheduled by contacting Sabrina Willis who is the freedom coach at the Magnolia Project.

Learning to adjust to adversity is an important part of healthy child development, according to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. There are three types of stress that impact the development of a child’s brain: positive stress, tolerable stress and toxic stress. These three types of stress refer to the stress response system’s effect on the body.

  • Positive stress is a normal part of healthy development and part of every child’s life. Examples of positive stress are a child’s first day of school, playing in a big game or giving a speech to a large audience. These are stresses that, once they are overcome, allow the child to feel relieved to have endured the stressful experience.
  • Tolerable stress relates to a greater degree of the brain’s development due to the more severe and longer-lasting difficulties such as an injury, losing a loved one or natural disasters. Buffering tolerable stresses with healthy relationships and positive support that can help the child adapt to the changes allows the brain and other organs to recover from what could have been damaging effects.
  • Toxic stress, which has the largest impact on brain development, is when a child experiences frequent adversity such as abuse, racism, neglect, socio economic hardship or having an alcoholic or depressed parent. Toxic stress can have long lasting impacts on a persons physical and mental health, causing chronic pulmonary lung disease, hepatitis, depression, suicide and preterm births.

The Magnolia Project is on a mission to negate the negative effects of toxic stress by educating the community and offering programs like “Yoga in the Streets” to individuals living in Health Zone One. The goal of “Yoga in the Streets” is to reduce hypertension and improve the mood in the communities where on-going stress is rampant.

Sabrina Willis is a strong advocate of using “Yoga in the Streets” as a means of reducing toxic stress in many Duval communities. Sabrina recently gave a presentation on the social determinants of health, life course and toxic stress at the Healthy Start EPIC Conference in Washington, D.C.

To schedule a toxic stress presentation contact Sabrina Willis: 904.353.2130 x1021

Healthy Families Jacksonville joins the Coalition

Oct 5, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments


A Healthy Families home visitor meeting with a client

The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition has been awarded a subcontract with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission to administer implementation of the Healthy Families Jacksonville program effective October 1, 2016.

Healthy Families is a nationally-accredited family support and coaching program that helps parents provide the safe and stable environments children need for healthy growth and development. The evidence-based program is voluntarily and the participants receive the services in their home by specially-trained support workers.

With the Coalition’s focus on preventing infant mortality and Healthy Families focus on reducing child abuse, the merge allows the Coalition to serve pregnant women and babies up to five years old. Families are screened for both programs with the Healthy Start screen.

The Healthy Families program will serve families living in Duval county in targeted zip codes. Those zip codes include: 32202, 32204, 32205, 32206, 32207, 32208, 32209, 32210, 32211, 32216, 32217, 32218, 32219, 32220, 32221, 32225, 32226, 32233, 32244, 32246, 32250, 32254, 32256, 32257 and 32277.

To be eligible for the Healthy Families program, participants must be pregnant or have an infant less than three months of age; live in a targeted geographic service delivery area; score 13 or above on the Healthy Start screen.

The Coalition welcomes approximately 28 new staff members to the team and looks forward to continuing serving pregnant women, babies and families, to promote positive parent-child relationships and to ensure that every baby has a healthy start.

Preparing tomorrow’s health professionals, today.

Oct 3, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments


The 2016-2017 National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps members

In Northeast Florida, 23 National Health Corps (NHC) Florida AmeriCorps Program members are placed each year at non-profits and government sites across the region to help meet critical health needs of children, families, pregnant women and other at risk segments of the population. The members in the Northeast Florida region will focus their services on maternal child health (MCH), smoking cessation and

The mission of the NHC Florida, an initiative of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, is to foster healthy communities by delivering and connecting those who need it most with health and wellness education, benefits and services, while developing tomorrow’s compassionate health leaders. The NCH Florida is one of four NHC sites funded by the Health Federation of Philadelphia.

Maternal Child Health

There are four MCH members that serve at the Florida Department of Health Nassau County, the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition and UF Health Jacksonville. The key components of their roles includes community outreach and education, interconceptional services, Healthy Start care coordination, provider/community outreach, tracking results and initial contact with clients. The members who serveac_0 with UF Health Jacksonville also assist with administering pregnancy tests, as well as provide health education on topics like childbirth and breastfeeding with Healthy Start clients.

Smoking Cessation

The members whose services are directed towards smoking cessation are hosted at Baptist Health, the Florida Department of Health Baker County and Tobacco Free Florida (TFF). Their services focus on tobacco prevention courses, educational courses on the dangers of tobacco use, youth development and
overall healthy lifestyle choices. TFF plays a major role in the prevention of tobacco use throughout the entire state of Florida. The member wo serves with TFF Duval spends eighty percent of their service hours working with Duval County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT).


There are two members who focus on nutrition in the Northeast Florida region. They are hosted by the YMCA of Duval County and the YMCA of Clay County. The members conduct pre- and post- fitness evaluations of y
outh participating in physical and nutrition classes. The members also research and develop a 13-week plan of healthy eating and physical lessons for use in the YMCA day camp settings. The 5a-nhc-florida-logo-round-rgbplan is distributed to all YMCA Summer Camps in the Duval and Clay County regions to be used during winter, summer and spring break.

The Coalition continues to provide public health professionals the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their desired fields of work through the NCH Florida. With recent additional funding for the next three years, tomorrow’s public health leaders are assured to have a place to learn in Northeast Florida.