The Make a Difference! Leadership Academy visited Kingsley Plantation last month as part or their leadership training to learn the history of events influencing health disparities in Florida and how they continue to impact health outcomes, such as infant mortality, today.
The field trip aimed to educate the students about the history of Kingsley Plantation, as well as how social determinants of health including racism, poverty and social environment negatively effected health outcomes for African Americans in the past and continue to do so today. Birth outcomes are heavily influenced by social determinants. African American babies continue to die at twice the rate of other babies, illustrating the impact of these factors.
Kingsley Plantation, located on Fort George island, includes an old plantation house, kitchen house, barn and the ruins of 25 (of 32 original) slave cabins. Only one of the 15 Leadership Academy students had been to Kingsley Plantation before and several were not aware it existed. Despite rain, the students eagerly toured the Plantation grounds, reading about its history and linking the past occurrances to its lasting impact in the Jacksonville community today. Visit the National Park Service website to learn more about the history of Kingsley Plantation.
Comments from the students after their visit to Kingsley Plantation:
- “I will have my grandchildren visit, because you don’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been.”
- “I love talking about Kingsley to the neighborhood.”
- “I understand the history of many of the people in the community.”
- “This will help us to work and come together more positively as a group, better communication and honesty.”
The Make a Difference! Leadership Academy was originated as an extention of the Make a Noise! Make a Difference! grassroots community education and awareness campaign to improve black infant mortality rates in Jacksonville. The goal of the leadership academy is to empower community members to make changes in neighborhood factors that contribute to disparities in health and birth outcomes.