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2016 Ramsey County Public Health Award winners announced

2016 Public Health Awards recipients Visions in Living Life - Change is Possible

Three groups working to address health issues in their communities will receive the 2016 Ramsey County Public Health Award at a meeting of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The awardees will be honored for their exceptional contributions to improving the health of individuals, families and communities in the county.

The 2016 Ramsey County Public Health Award winners are:

  • Visions in Living Life – Change is Possible (pictured), a youth program within the Aurora Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, for its education and advocacy regarding flavored tobacco in Saint Paul.
  • Everybody’s Garden, a Mounds View Public Schools project that integrates food insecurity education and community service at school gardens used to grow healthy organic produce for a local food shelf.
  • Children’s Dental Services Dental Team, for their work to reduce health disparities among low-income children, immigrants and refugees in Saint Paul, by providing culturally appropriate, and accessible dental care where communities naturally congregate.

Award recipients were selected for their leadership, advocacy, collaboration and work to improve community health in Ramsey County. Nominations for the awards, which are sponsored by Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health, were submitted by the public earlier this year.

This is the second year public health has recognized individuals and groups for their work throughout the county. “One exciting aspect of the awards this year is the involvement of youths,” said Ramsey County Board Chair Victoria Reinhardt. “It bodes well for the future health of our county to have so many youths not just learning about health issues, but providing leadership and doing hands-on work to improve the health of people and environments in Ramsey County.”

The awards presentation coincides with National Public Health Week, April 4 -10.  “The role of local public health is not only to provide services, but to  provide leadership, facilitate conversations, engage the community and support the good work of others striving to enable all people to attain and sustain good health,” said Marina McManus, Director of Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health. “These awards enable us to recognize the exceptional work being done by many individuals and groups to reduce health disparities and improve the health status of the community.”

Nominations for the 2017 Ramsey County Public Health Awards will be accepted starting in January of next year.

Learn more about the awards.

Additional background on the 2016 Ramsey County Public Health Award winners

Visions in Living Life – Change is Possible

Visions in Living Life – Change is Possible is a program within the Aurora Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation that helps youth make wise and responsible personal decision to build strength within their families and experience personal growth. Youth from the group have been involved in tobacco education and prevention efforts for several years.

Vision in Living Life youth are being recognized for the leadership they provided on the issue of flavored tobacco through education and advocacy. They attended community festivals and events and educated their neighbors, parents and peers by sharing their own stories about tobacco use, and what they had learned about how the tobacco industry targets youth with sweet and candy flavors in cigars, chewing tobacco, shisha and electronic cigarettes. The youths met with Saint Paul City Councilmembers to discuss the harm being caused by flavored tobacco and joined with other groups in the Ramsey Tobacco Coalition to advocate successfully for a city ordinance that prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products in stores where kids can enter.

Everybody’s Garden

Everybody’s Garden is a service learning project of the Mounds View Public Schools designed to provide applied learning, develop student leadership, and foster civic involvement. Mounds View Public Schools installed 11 organic gardens at all Kindergarten – 8th grade schools, with support from a Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grant administered by Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health, Through Everybody’s Garden, students learned about growing and eating healthy foods, about food insecurity, and how their work could help alleviate health inequities in their community.

Approximately 1900 students, teachers, and community volunteers were involved in the construction, planting, harvesting and maintenance of the gardens. In the first year of operation, the gardens produced nearly 1.1 tons of fresh produce for the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf, a value of $3,000 to $5,000.The gardens are also being used for events to expand cultural outreach and parental connections.

Children’s Dental Services

Children’s Dental Services (CDS) dental team provides a full range of dental education and treatment services to more than 10,000 low-income children and pregnant women in Saint Paul each year. The team is receiving the public health award for their innovative approaches to expanding dental care access, for their culturally targeted care, and their sustained efforts to reduce health disparities among low-income children, immigrants and refugees.

The CDS dental team collaborates with Saint Paul Public Schools, Head Start Centers and many other community partners to provide portable dental care on-site, where people naturally congregate. The dental team co-locates screening and treatment services at schools, Head Start sites, libraries, low-income housing sites, and community events such as the Saint Paul Project Homeless Connect. They use translated culturally targeted oral health curriculum that engages children and families in healthy dental habits. CDS also engages more than 30 at-risk youths annually through a hands-on work internship and mentorship program. 

Posted on Friday, April 1, 2016 - 12:50 p.m.