Minneapolis recognizes local public health heroes

As part of National Public Health Week, the Minneapolis Health Department today honored seven local public health heroes whose work exemplifies the goals of the Health Department and helps to raise awareness of the critical roles that public health and prevention play in making Minneapolis a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play.

2014 Local Public Health Heroes awards recipients

24th Street Urban Farm Coalition
The 24th Street Urban Farm Coalition is a group of numerous organizations and individuals that worked together to create the Mashkiikii Gitigan (Medicine Garden) Project to address food justice issues in the Phillips Neighborhood and the American Indian Community. The project has had multiple successes in creating opportunities for families to maintain and harvest vegetables, creating access to healthier foods, and developing knowledge and practices to maintain healthy lifestyles. The project has grown over 50 varieties of foods and traditional medicines, harvested thousands of pounds of food, served over 11,895 free meals in partnership with Waite House Community Café and hosted over 40 community events.

Kathleen Schuler – Healthy Legacy
Kathleen has been labeled a pioneer for healthy, toxic-free environments for children.  She serves as the Co-Director of Healthy Legacy, a Minnesota public health coalition.  In this role, Kathleen works to educate parents about the safer choices they can make to ensure their children aren’t exposed to harmful toxic chemicals.  Kathleen was instrumental in introducing and passing two bills in Minnesota designed to eliminate BPA from food packaging marketed to children and phase out formaldehyde from children’s personal care products.  Kathleen is currently working on the Toxic Free Kids Act, which is a comprehensive regulatory bill designed to further safeguard children from chemicals of high concern.

Project for Pride in Living
Project for Pride in Living (PPL) is a nonprofit organization that supports the community through the provision of housing programs, education, workforce skill training, and other life-altering programs to meet the needs of low income individuals and their families in Minneapolis. PPL has worked in partnership with the Minneapolis Health Department on projects such as the HUD Healthy Homes, Thriving Communities Project, Home Repair Loans, Foreclosure Prevention Grants, and the Northside Homes Project.  Through PPL’s partnership and support, a larger, cumulative health and safety project has been realized and PPL has provided a model for reducing home-based injuries, disease, and death due to housing defects.

Starnisha McClellan and Ron Brown – Northpoint Health & Wellness Center:
Starnisha (Star) McClellan has been working as a youth tobacco advocate in north Minneapolis for five years.  Star is currently working with her peers to help reduce the number of stores in North Minneapolis that sell flavored cigars, single cigarettes, and other tobacco products that disproportionately increase tobacco use among young adults. Star has worked with Northpoint Health & Wellness staff to help Hennepin County adopt a smoke free campus policy, as well as working with churches, daycares, and local businesses to adopt smoke free policies in North Minneapolis

Ron Brown is a Community Health Worker focused on sexual health and education who works tirelessly to reach the most at-risk Northside youth, who are often most heavily impacted by these public health crises.  Ron’s approach to sexual health education allows him to effectively connect with the community, deepen the educational impact, and allow youth to feel empowered to take charge of their own health and spread the message to their peers.  Ron co-facilitates a youth group, staffs the Man Clinic at Northpoint and brings his work into the places where people gather, such as barber shops, community events, and homeless shelters.

Pillsbury Pedal Power
In response to a survey indicating that 50 percent of Pillsbury Elementary School students didn’t own bicycles and nearly 33 percent were unable to ride a bike, Pillsbury Pedal Power was formed and was able to procure a full classroom set of bicycles utilizing grants and other funding sources. The bicycles have been used to teach bicycle safety, cycling navigation, community connections, environmental awareness, and healthy habits.  Students in the program have participated in twice-weekly three-hour rides across the city, visiting all parks in northeast Minneapolis, Target Field, and many other locations.  The Pillsbury Pedal Power program has been so successful that it has become a model for other Minneapolis schools that have begun to amass their own bicycle fleets in order to replicate the successes of the program. 

Will Wallace – Emerge Community Development, North 4 Project
Emerge’s North 4 Project was started in 2010 in response to the City of Minneapolis Blueprint for Action to reduce violence among youth in Minneapolis. The project was developed to create pathways of success for formerly gang/clique affiliated youth (16-21). As Program Coordinator of the North 4 Project, Will Wallace works with cohorts of 10-12 youth over a 16-week program that focuses on work readiness, development training, and a 300-hour paid internship. Will has been committed to supporting youth in achieving success, leading all weekly groups, working one-on-one with youth, and serving as the primary contact when youth are in crisis. Mr. Wallace has constantly made himself available to youth whenever they need, often going well beyond the typical work day and meeting youth where they are at in places such as street corners, corner stores, and front porches. Many youth in the program see Mr. Wallace as a mentor and supportive figure in their lives. 

The FATHER Project
Since 2009, The FATHER project has provided comprehensive services for low-income fathers, including parenting education, case management, employment services, child support services, and father and family activities.  The FATHER Project recognized that while father involvement is critical for healthy mothers, babies, and families, many barriers exist that make it difficult for fathers to be involved.  Therefore, The FATHER Project seeks to address these barriers by helping fathers with child support orders, offering them transportation tokens for appointments, assisting them with clothing for interviews, and helping them navigate employment searches.  Most of the fathers served by The FATHER Project have young children, and their involvement with the program helps them contribute to a healthy start to life and learning for their children. 

Published Apr 10, 2014



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