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The success of a community is directly impacted by the wellness of the individual residents who comprise the community. The individuals in low-income housing communities usually have access to medical and wellness programs, but often need assistance in understanding and navigating the system. Star-C’s health and wellness programs have 3 goals: 1) each resident understands the local healthcare system and the need for a primary care physician as their gatekeeper; 2) each resident has a primary care physician; and 3) each resident either has insurance or a plan to pay the physician. In addition to these goals, Star-C provides other wellness activities including free educational programs around the topics of nutrition, hygiene, family planning, child nurturing, and others.
This program is designed as an extension of the school day. Too often the children in low-income apartment communities return from school to an empty household with no parental supervision because the parent(s) are working one to three jobs to support their families. We help to alleviate the risk of being alone for these children. Daily activities include exercise, a healthy snack, and school assigned homework (with assistance from our volunteers). Local activities such as Girl Scouts, music lessons and art activities are often part of the weekly program. The bonds of friendship formed by the children help generate a strong sense of community.
Actually, our gardens are more 'personal' than 'community. The residents have the opportunity for a 'backyard' garden plot to grow vegetables, herbs and other produce -- for their personal consumption and/or to sell through our go-to-market program. We offer gardening education and activities for the adults and children to ensure a thriving, productive garden. For our growers, gardening provides a source of familiar foods -- many of which are not available or affordable -- and provides a source of exercise, stress reduction, recreation and interaction of the members of the community. For some growers, the inclusion of a simple go-to-market program is a financial incentive to grow produce that the greater community would want to purchase.
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By building on our past successes and establishing strategic priorities, we will have the foundation to become stronger and more efficient than ever.