By Jeanne Russell, SA2020 Chief Strategist
It’s been a whiplash-inducing year for me personally, leaving Mayor Castro’s office after the passage of Pre-K 4 SA to join SA2020, a fledgling nonprofit with about 6 years to help our city reach its biggest dreams.
As a San Antonian for 15 years now, I am amazed at the changes I see in areas I once believed our city had either given up on or grown resigned to. This year marked the first in my memory where we could definitively celebrate progress in high school graduation rates, teen pregnancy rates, and obesity and diabetes rates.
While improving high school graduation rates and reducing teen pregnancy, obesity and diabetes are among key SA2020 goals, it is impossible to say whether SA2020 can be credited for focusing our community on these targets. Our small organization exists to connect the community for a stronger San Antonio. Our organization doesn’t do the work. You do.
And what we do know is that we are stronger together. Since the SA2020 community vision was adopted in 2010, new partnerships have formed to tackle such shared goals as reducing teen births. Since Metro Health, the UT Health Science Center and Project Worth formed the Collaborative to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, teen births have gone steadily down. As the Mayor’s Fitness Council, SA2020’s partner on fitness, has ramped up its efforts to promote healthy lunches, fitness in the parks and workplace wellness, we’ve turned the curve on the obesity and diabetes challenges that have plagued us for decades.
A lesser-known effort, Diplomás, has brought together four school districts, UTSA and Alamo Colleges, and multiple community-based organizations to form concrete goals around college readiness targets and activities.
These nascent efforts to connect the successes in our community and to focus on the SA2020 community vision demonstrate that working together, we can achieve our ambitious dreams. But these 2013 wins, while affirming, are not enough. To achieve the 58 targets laid out by San Antonians in 2010, it will take each of you dedicating time and talent toward evidence-based programs or coalitions that are moving the needle.
Chances abound. Our SA2020 website will help you first find your passion, and then connect to a volunteer opportunity that matches that love. Soon we’ll be rolling out some New Year’s resolutions aimed at furthering key targets – and you can join in by signing up on our website. Action networks like the Mayor’s Fitness Council and Diplomás are forming to tackle key community goals – the latest just getting off the ground will attempt to increase San Antonio’s access to parks and green space. And there’s more. We’ll be rolling out a series of citywide campaigns, with the first being an effort to EnrollSA, an effort to increase our community’s access to health care and become insured.
At SA2020, we’re studying the data to determine where we aren’t on track to achieve our dreams, and actively identifying partners who can help us get there. We’ve added new staff, most recently Jessica Rios, a health and fitness partnership manager who will help coordinate activities of the Mayor’s Fitness Council and look for other opportunities to ensure we reach our goal of becoming the healthiest community in America.
So join us, however you can. Sign up to volunteer. Become a part of a campaign. Make a resolution. Join an Action Network. Make 2014 the year you become a part of making San Antonio a city on the rise.
See Also: SA2020 Year in Review: Top 20 of 2013