Eight 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.
The 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.