Invest in children, invest in the future

I’d like to call your attention to another Big Idea in the works for 2012, The Success Equation: a movement to reduce the incidence and impact of child poverty and create a community where all children thrive [”Big Ideas for 2012,” Jan. 4 and Jan. 11, Xpress].

Scientific research on toxic stress and brain development, along with economic and social-sciences research, provide justification to what many of us feel deeply in our hearts — that child poverty exacts high costs on individuals, families and our community.

Growing up poor substantially raises risks for poor health, hunger, lowered academic achievement and behavioral issues. The risks are especially severe during early childhood when cognitive is most active. More than one out of five children in Buncombe County live in poverty. In our public schools, about half of all children are on the free or reduced lunch program that serves children in poverty and from low-income families. These statistics highlight our vulnerability for future economic and human development.

In order to develop a community-driven response, Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County hosted a community summit called “The Success Equation: Families + Communities + Commitment2 = Thriving Children.” More than 150 people from a diversity of backgrounds filled the YMI to share success stories and ideas for action. We also listened to experiences and ideas from 113 low-income residents and 41 service providers. All this input shaped our first year action plan available at http://avl.mx/9e.

Building a bright future for our community starts with investments in our children’s health, education and safety. This plan marks the start of a multiyear effort to build on successes, innovate new ideas and strengthen our shared value of opportunity for children, regardless of their economic status. In the Success Equation, everyone has something to add. Will you join us?

— Allison Jordan
Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County
Asheville

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