In posts below under Our Community Blog you will read about the recent study showing a narrowing of the infamous 14 year life expectancy gap between here in the 74126 and in South Tulsa, narrowing down to an equally outrageous 10.7 years gap. What I want to detail out here is about the real heroes not mentioned by many in the media for this narrowing. And as I have just been talking about this with OU grad social work students, I want to spend a little time lifting up the impact by the Grad Social Work Dept. and others at OU for being a part of the narrowing, and supporting those who have been doing the work narrowing the gap. I could do the same for many of the others I mention, and so many more, in the original post on the gap narrowing that was published here in the link below.
2. helped bring in the OU Health Clinic to our space before there was a health department or OSU clinic or OU Tisdale clinic
3. Set up our Foundation and its Board Retreats
4. Cast the vision with us and helped initial promotional efforts for our Community GardenPark Welcome Table Garden Park and Orchard
5. Helped start our Free Food Store pantry program with the Food Bank.
6. Re-Greened our Area with 600 trees through us after the 2007 Ice Storm
7. Brought in medical students to hear about social determinants of health in our area. And collaborated on coming up with disruptive innovation to the health status quo by looking at ways mentiond below to decentralize the delivery of health care and build up the economic and relational base of the community; we were going for an X Prize but that didnt work, but it shaped our learning.
8. Three years of social work interns here. One with the community center beginning; one with a focus on food justice; one with a focus on new forms of health care
9. A 2009 Nutrition Study of our area that showed 60 percent of residents cannot afford healthy food and other important data on food justice and health outcomes
10. A 2013 study of ours and two other food pantries as part of the Choices Study that showed how much intense food insecurity, ie hunger, is in those who come to us, and how the food we give out is so important but also not the healthiest food they need, but provides the calories they need to get by, and how much mental illness affects our neighbors whom we related with, and who help us.
11. Helped us come up with that still wonderful but laying fallow pilot project to not rely on clinics for health care (especially needed since Oklahoma did not expand Medicaid, by hiring people from our zip codes here and training them to be neighborhood lay health advocates, engaged in research with us to show its efficacy.
12. When Cherokee School Closed here, the OU Graduate Design STudio did a community based school building repurposing project that was later used to back up the current reopening as a public charter school. The Design Studio also helped come up with the initial plan that helped fundraise for our gardenpark and orchard
13. Each semester the classes take on both "small but important projects helping at the community center and gardenpark" and looking at research into the broad topics that we deal with, and come up with plans and innovations tried in other areas and consider how we can use them here. Lately focused on mental health and teen pregnancy and other issues of connecting with people, of street lights and sidewalks (i will post on later).
SO WOW, right? This is how you narrow the life expectancy gap, and it is being done also by other groups right here in the neighborhoods.