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Quality of Life

Transforming communities through collective impact discussed at City-County Conference

partners in progressCity, county and local government leaders convened in at the 14th Annual City-County Conference in Lake Arrowhead on March 24-25 to discuss unique ways to collaborate and bring innovative ideas to meet challenges in our communities.

The conference themed “Partners in Progress” began with a presentation on the benefits of collective impact in solving society’s complex problems.

Collective impact occurs when organizations from different sectors agree to solve a specific social problem using a common agenda, aligning their efforts, and using common measures of success, said Jennifer Splansky Juster, director of the Collective Impact Forum at FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm.

Juster highlighted the use of collective impact used in by officials in New York state who were struggling with recidivism of  their juvenile offenders. By tapping state resources in the areas such as mental health, housing, and corrections, the state reduced the number of juveniles in state custody by 45 percent.

This model has been used across the country to tackle some of the most serious social issues, including the education system in Cincinnati, malnutrition in low socioeconomic status communities, substance abuse in teens, and childhood obesity.  This model holds promise as a successful approach to the Cradle to Career goal of the Countywide Vision.

healthymuralSan Bernardino County Director of Public Health Trudy Raymundo led a lively discussion about healthy communities using artists who drew a mural showing what healthy communities look like based on a wish list received from conference attendees.

Their answers ranged from clean air, to a general plan that promotes diversity in housing amenities, to bike and walking paths and recreation centers.

Barbara Alejandre, assistant to the County Superintendent of Schools joined San Bernardino County Director of Preschool Services Diana Alexander to talk about education’s role in the economy of our region.

Education is an excellent investment in a region’s overall economic vitality, and improves social, environmental, and cultural factors as well. The Countywide Vision Cradle to Career Roadmap was developed to bring all sectors of our community together to support every child’s path to the workforce.

Already underway in the Colton Joint Unified School District are Community Cabinets of educators, parents, community members and business leaders working together to develop concrete goals -such as reading by third grade – to help children excel in school and build the skills necessary to sustain themselves into adulthood.

Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Rutherford and the County’s Chief Executive Officer Gregory C. Devereaux discussed County government’s roles and responsibilities and how those duties relate to a county’s incorporated cities.

devereauxcitycountyCounties have four basic functions: provide municipal services in unincorporated areas, provide the backbone infrastructure, provide health and human services and law enforcement and justice.

Cities and counties have major differences in function and they are not the same in structure and legal abilities, Devereaux said. However, cities and counties can find ways to collaborate and work with each other on major issues to reach common goals.

The conference was sponsored by the County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

 

The REC Center, local parents and their grassroots effort

REC CenterJennifer Araiza is part of the change we wish to see in the world, a Supermom of the 21st century. If working full-time and taking care of four children wasn’t enough—two years ago Araiza and a group of local supporters started a nonprofit organization from the grassroots up, called The REC Center.

What started as a few local parents coming together to find quality after-school instructors for their own community quickly became a high demand recreational program in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

“Many families, including myself, were taking our kids to Riverside or Redlands for quality recreation and art programs. It was important for me to bring these programs closer to home,” said Araiza.

Close to home is right. After recognizing the impact of not having a Parks and Recs department in her community, Araiza saw the need in her hometown of Grand Terrace and made it the birthplace of The REC Center. But it didn’t stop there. Other communities and organizations learned about the program and worked with Araiza to bring the The REC Center to their area as well.

Now, after the Feb. 1 Grand Opening of the Bloomington site located at 18604 Jurupa Avenue, The REC Center has three sites (Grand Terrace, Highgrove, Bloomington) that offer recreational opportunities to local residents of all ages.

According to RECstar.org, The REC Center seeks to bring education-focused recreation programs to communities that may otherwise not have them.

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From youth delinquency to advocacy

Terrance StoneA former gang member turned community leader, Terrance Stone has lived a story you’d expect to see in a movie. But instead of lending his story to Hollywood, he’s given his life to empowering the lives of thousands of young men and women in our community.

Stone is the CEO of Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy (YVYLA), a nonprofit he started in 2001 that’s dedicated to steering young people away from the kind of life that cost Terrance much of his own.

“I try to use myself as an example. I’m very transparent when I’m out and talking to kids. We just try to spark that inspiration in young people so that they know they can do it, they can be whatever they want to be,” said Stone in a 2010 interview.

In an area blighted by systemic challenges of poverty and chronic unemployment, YVYLA has helped take local youth off the streets and onto a track of success, serving over 10,000 young men and women to date.

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