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I CAN SWIM! teaches swimming lessons, promotes water safety

Local children and adults have been learning the importance of water safety and being able to swim as part of the “I CAN SWIM!” project. 

More than 10 people die every single day from unintentional drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission, along with many city officials, is hoping to lower that number and decrease the number of water-related deaths and injuries through “I CAN SWIM!”

“I CAN SWIM!” started in dedication to Bryce and Cameron Jeff, ages 8 and 10, who drowned in a neighbor's backyard pool in June 2011.

The series of lessons are instructed by The American Red Cross and help swimmers develop and refine their swimming skills as well as teaching them water safety.

Councilmember Yvette Simpson, who never learned to swim, began the second round of this summer’s swim lessons this week at Lincoln Pool. Simpson will continue her lessons on Monday and Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. until the end of the month.

“We’re committed to raising awareness and making people feel comfortable,” Simpson says. “If we can learn to swim together and move the dial on that number, it’s going to feel worth it.”

The “I CAN SWIM!” project concludes the week of July 28, with the last swim lesson on July 30. But Simpson still urges citizens of all ages to make the commitment any time of year and reduce the risk of drowning.

“You never know when you’re going to need it,” Simpson says. “If you don’t understand the fundamentals, you can’t save yourself [or others].”

Do Good: 

•    Follow Yvette’s experience on Twitter using #swimwithsimpson

•    Take a swim lesson at one of the CRC pools.

•    Inquire about volunteer opportunities

Cradle Cincinnati receives funding, battles infant mortality

Cradle Cincinnati received more than $1 million in funding in an effort to reduce the infant mortality rate in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  

Cradle Cincinnati, which recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary, is a collective impact collaborative made up of political, hospital, health and community leaders who have a vision that every child born in Hamilton County will live to see his or her first birthday. 

Funding for Cradle Cincinnati came from various organizations in the community: UC Health, Hamilton County, The City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s, TriHealth, The Christ Hospital, Interact for Health, United Way, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Elise Brown Family Foundation and Eat Play Give

Hamilton County lost 543 babies during the past five years, and the city of Cincinnati’s infant mortality rate during these five years was two times higher than the national average. However, Cradle Cincinnati has a plan to reduce that number moving forward by focusing on women’s health in general, in hopes that pregnancy health and infant health will also improve.  

There are many indicators that affect infant mortality, but Cradle Cincinnati has a strategic plan to battle infant mortality through three of them: spacing, smoking and sleep. The collective aims to encourage more spacing time between pregnancies and reduce tobacco use to decrease premature birth while also reminding women about safer sleep practices for infants.

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to infant mortality,” says Elizabeth Kelly, MD, co-founder and physician lead. “These are the three indicators that can have the greatest impact in a shorter amount of time.”

Do Good:
•    Send your love. Write a letter to a mom in the city. 

•    Join in the citywide fight against infant mortality by educating yourself and friends about spacing, smoking and sleep.

•    Share Cradle Cincinnati’s story with a friend. Let them know the state of our community. 

St. Rita School for the Deaf exceeds campaign goal

St. Rita School for the Deaf raised more than $100,000 in its first-ever all-digital Community Challenge this year. 

Every dollar donated to St. Rita goes to tuition assistance — more than 40 percent of its students live below the poverty line, but 100 percent of them need help in some way. 

“We never turn a child away because of a family’s inability to pay,” says Julie O’Meara, director of advancement. “Every child receives the quality education they deserve.”

So the school sought to raise as much money as possible to help students in need and their families. 

Local businessman Rob Hollaender initially donated $32,500, the equivalent of one year’s tuition for one student, to the campaign and asked the community to match his contribution.  

More than $100,000 was collected in response to the school’s campaign. Individual donors contributed a total of $20,902, while an additional $80,000 was received from two anonymous donors, one from the local Cincinnati area and one from out-of-state, for general operating costs. 

St. Rita is one of only a few schools in the country to provide assistance for the deaf and hard of hearing while also offering enhanced educational programs to help children who have communication challenges like Autism, Apraxia and Down Syndrome.

Do Good:

•    Give a gift. Donate money for tuition assistance.

•    Like St. Rita on Facebook.

•    Visit St. Rita School and learn more about what goes on there.

Gold Star Chili continues partnership with The Cure Starts Now

Cans for the Cure originated as a tribute to local 6-year-old Elena Desserich and her fight against brain cancer. The Cure Starts Now, which is in its third year, launched the campaign as a partnership with Gold Star Chili, which donates a portion of canned chili sales to benefit pediatric brain cancer research.

More than $32,000 has been raised through the Cans for the Cure campaign since its inception, and The Cure Starts Now has funded more than $2 million in the past seven years for research and awareness. 

Part of Gold Star’s overall mission is to care about its neighbors and communities, and to actively participate in events and causes that are important to the company. Gold Star Chili plans to donate $18,000 to The Cure Starts Now in the coming weeks to continue the Cans for the Cure campaign. 

The Cure Starts Now has been recognized by Good Morning America, The Today Show, People Magazine, CNN, and Inside Edition for its efforts.

“There are so many different causes to give to,” says Jen Gault, The Cure Starts Now's public relations and marketing coordinator. “But by doing something as little as eating—something you do every day—you can help raise money for cancer research.”

Do Good:

•    Buy a can of chili at any particpating Kroger or Gold Star location.

•    ‘Like’ The Cure Starts now on Facebook. 

•    Inquire about volunteer opportunities with The Cure Starts Now.

Artsy motorcycle helmets benefit charity

Motorcycle helmets are generally purchased for their ability to prevent serious injury or death while riding, with their aesthetic value taking the sidecar. Local artists are changing lanes with that idea, using their creativity to protect skulls and raise funds for charity.

The Biltwell ART & MOTO show is a collection of artistically redesigned motorcycle helmets painted and crafted by independent artists and auctioned off for charity. The exhibit opened May 30 at Article Menswear in Over-the-Rhine and ran through June 7. It benefitted the LifeCenter organ donation network, which coordinates the donation of human tissues and organs transplants. Between $1,500 and $2,500 was expected to be raised by the helmet auction alone.

Biltwell Helmets teamed up with Cincinnati Cafe Racer and Mighty Ohio Scooter Club to organize a rally for Cincinnati's motor enthusiasts, from Segways and mopeds all the way to choppers. The event included a raffle, live music and a group ride.

The helmets, designed by nearly two dozen local artists, are still safe to wear, in most cases.

"Many of the helmets are un-altered in structure and no safety has been compromised," says Timothy Burke of Cincy Cafe Racer. "Others are purely fun art pieces that you could wear but would look pretty silly doing so (such as the wedding cake helmet or the one with spikes added)."

“The idea came from what the guys in Portland did a couple of years ago with the '21 Helmets' show in the fall of 2012,” Burke says, referring to a similarly styled helmet show that gained some attention in the biker and art worlds. “I thought, Cincinnati has a great art community, and I would love to do this locally to combine my love of motorcycles and my love of art. So in 2013, we did our first ART & MOTO show with only seven artists. This year, Biltwell signed on to sponsor and provide helmets which enabled us to get a bigger reach and not pay out of our own pockets to fund the helmets.”

Occupational therapist founds volunteer group for Summit clients

In her four years as an occupational therapist at Summit Behavioral Healthcare, Laura Menze says she’s noticed her clients’ strong desire to be helpful.
“They enjoy working around the unit, whether that’s wiping tables or watering plants, so they have a longing to engage in productive occupations,” Menze says.
Clients are sometimes limited, however, when it comes to engaging in meaningful work outside of the facility.
So Menze started a volunteer group that allows Summit’s clients to work with one another, in a safe environment, for a positive cause.
“Most have been on the receiving end of things for most of their lives and are grateful for the services they receive, but this puts them in the position of the ones who can give, and that’s significant,” Menze says.
The volunteer group meets once a week, and for the past few months, Menze says about 10 males have joined together to do things like plant seed trays for Peaslee Neighborhood Center’s Early Learning Center, make birthday cards for residents at Lydia’s House, craft packets for children at the Ronald McDonald House, and fleece blankets to donate to The Healing Center.
“I think they’ve taken pride in their work,” Menze says. “There’s just a great amount of stigma related to this population of folks; so to be able to hear, ‘Thank you for what you did. That was really meaningful. Someone will be grateful,’—that provides something for their self-esteem, their self-worth.” 

Do Good:

•    Contact Laura Menze if you're a nonprofit interested in a collaborative volunteer opportunity that could be completed on site at Summit. 

•    Volunteer with a local nonprofit.

•    Support a cause you're passionate about.

Fan and air conditioning drive keeps city cool

With the 2014 Farmer's Almanac predicting an oppressively hot summer this year, most people in the city have already turned on their fans and air conditioning. St. Vincent de Paul is ensuring anybody who needs a fan or air conditioning unit has access to one with its annual drive.

If you are interested in receiving a free fan or air conditioning unit, contact a representative at St. Vincent de Paul on the company's website or call 513-562-8841.

"In order to receive an air conditioner, the person in need must have a medical need for the unit, or be over 65 years old," says Elysa Hamlin, senior communications coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul, who is coordinating the drive. "This will be verified by a doctor’s note (for medical need) or an ID (for people over 65)."

Bring a new fan or air conditioning unit for donation at Coney Island Amusement Park between now and September 1 to receive a free rides pass, valued at $12.95.

If you donate to any Greater Cincinnati YMCA location during the month of July, you will be entered to win a $500 prize pack of Gain products and restaurant gift certificates. The winners will be announced on July 24, 2014 at the Salsa on the Square event on Fountain Square. You must be present to win.

Donations are also accepted at any St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Center or Thrift Store and Donation Center, and at the Tedia Company in Fairfield.

"These fans and air conditioners are a critical need in our community," Hamlin says. "During visits to the homes of families in need, our volunteers often find sick and elderly neighbors living in dangerously hot apartments without proper ventilation and no source of relief from the summer heat."

The Kentucky Project shares beauty, betters lives of others

Chris Egan founded The Kentucky Project this past November in an effort to share the state’s beauty and culture, while also enriching the lives of those who inhabit it—all for the purpose of creating positive change.
Though the organization is still, as Egan calls it, “a baby,” the most recent added component is the launch of the photo sales website.
For each purchase of a print showcasing the beauty Kentucky has to offer, the organization will donate 25 percent of the profits to a local nonprofit.
The Healthy Newborns Project, which is the collaborative effort of Transitions Inc. and The Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2014, is The Kentucky Project’s photo sales program’s first recipient.
According to Transitions, Inc., the number of drug addicted babies born in the state of Kentucky between 2000-2009 increased 2,400 percent.
To help mitigate the rising number of unhealthy births, The Healthy Newborns Project aims to provide a safe place for women who are recovering from drug addiction so they can “deliver a healthy, drug-free baby.”
Women continue to receive support in the transitional home for up to four months after giving birth.
For Egan, it’s important to donate 25 percent of the photo sales profits because the basis of The Kentucky Project is to help others.
“We share photos of Kentucky to show its beauty and do what we can to help Kentucky organizations and individuals spread their message,” Egan says. “We've already been a small part of many important issues, and we hope to be more helpful and become a bigger soundboard in the future.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support The Kentucky Project and The Healthy Newborns Project by purchasing prints.

•    Connect with The Kentucky Project on Facebook.

•    Contact The Kentucky Project if there is an important issue you're concerned about.

Cincinnati leads nation in LGBTQ youth homelessness prevention initiative

Cincinnati’s Hamilton County is one of just two communities in the nation selected to participate in a National LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative.
Lighthouse Youth Services is leading the initiative in partnership with Strategies to End Homelessness in an effort to identify a plan that goes beyond troubleshooting, says Meredith Hicks, LYS planning and policy director.
Instead, Hicks wants to create a system to ensure the support and safety for youth who are LGBTQ.
“Nationally, we know that LGBTQ homeless youth are overrepresented in the homeless youth populations, so the estimate is that 20-40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ,” Hicks says.
“And these young people are at an increased risk of victimization when they’re on the streets, just by nature of their experience and orientation toward gender identity, and our staff here has seen it playing out in our own center.”  
The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services and Justice, as well as the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness developed the initiative, in which both Cincinnati and Houston are participating.
According to Hicks, about 45 participants came together in Cincinnati for the initiative’s kickoff last month to identify community needs, challenges, strengths and weaknesses.
The planning process will extend through September and will be followed by a three-year implementation process.
“One takeaway and really important aspect of the plan is we recognize a need for better services and awareness building around service providers in serving young people among families, among teachers, as a community and among faith groups,” Hicks says.
“Part of this is really working with families so they can have better understanding, and one of the goals of that is going to be to help educate people in our systems to help keep people in their homes.” 

Do Good:

•    Support Lighthouse Youth Services by donating.

•    Contact Meredith Hicks if you're interested in getting involved with the initiative.

•    Learn about LGBTQ issues at the True Colors Fund, one of the technical assistance organizations for the process.

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Young Survival Coalition helps create support network for cancer patients

Stephanie Getz survived breast cancer with the help of friends and family. The former Ben-Gal cheerleader found an immense support network through Facebook; her page, Team Stephanie connects her with hundreds of people going through similar medical situations. This community of fellow cancer patients and loved ones prompted her to help start the Cincinnati chapter of the Young Survival Coalition, a national organization dedicated to educating and aiding young women diagnosed with cancer.

“When I went through my cancer I did it solo,” Getz says, referring to official organizations focused on cancer care. “I had a few people I met at Christ [Hospital] and on Facebook that I talked to, but there wasn’t a patient navigator at that time to help me get with the right organizations. Deena Casey came on board at Christ as the patient navigator during my chemo and we met, but I was never referred to her. She had so many younger women being referred to her that asked for a group where they could meet up and talk with women their age going through the same things they were, so she looked into starting the Cincinnati chapter for that reason and asked a handful of us to lead it.”

The new group has had two formal meetings with about 15 in attendance. At the meetings, survivors and patients discuss their own lives, how cancer has changed it, what resources are available to them and who they can lean on.

“The best thing for someone with cancer is to be able to talk to others who have been there because there aren’t any black and white answers and the doctors are hesitant to answer questions because of that," Getz says. "In this organization, you can meet others like you and ask questions.”

Each meeting has a different theme: physical therapy and exercise, grief, wellness and even pampering, with a future meeting revolving around massages and cosmetics.

Informal meetings started springing up within the organization, where attendees share dinner or participate in a leisurely activity such as a group walk.

Getz is passionate about helping the community she’s become a part of: She interacts with her Facebook friends on her Team Stephanie page on a daily basis, sharing her experiences and simply being a willing ear to hear someone’s worries about cancer.

“I am lending my hats to women to use [during chemotherapy treatments] and then they will give them back to lend to someone else,” Getz says. “I didn’t miss a day of work except chemo days and three weeks for my mastectomy. I went in every other day including the days I had radiation. I just decided it wasn’t going to beat me. I am a very healthy person in that I continued to work out with my trainer and eat healthy. My fans on Facebook inspired me to get up every day even though they said I inspired them.”

For more information on Young Survival Coalition, visit www.youngsurvival.org.

Caracole facilitates stable housing so focus remains on health

When Linda Seiter, executive director of Caracole first became involved with the organization in the late 1980s, she says she was drawn to it because she was concerned and appalled at the opposition it received.
“I was starting to see friends die from HIV,” Seiter says. “Then I learned about this new organization that was trying to get housing for HIV/AIDS off the ground; and at the time there was tons of opposition—it was a really hard time—trying to open a house to take care of people as they died, so I got involved.”
Caracole’s mission has evolved over the years, but for its 1,400 clients, services are still much needed.
The nonprofit, located in Northside, provides about 120 units of permanent housing, 22 beds for transitional housing, case management and, as of last month, pharmacy services.
“There is still so much stigma related to HIV, and it continues to surprise me how alone our clients feel,” Seiter says.
According to Seiter, children of the women the nonprofit serves don’t even know their mothers are HIV-positive—let alone the rest of their family members.
“So we provide a safe place for people to talk about their issues related to HIV, and then, for housing—two-thirds of our clients make less than $15,000 dollars each year,” Seiter says. “And without stable housing, how could anyone be healthy, let alone with a chronic disease? And that’s where we come in—helping someone who’s homeless or not permanently housed find a permanent housing situation so they can focus on their health.” 

Do Good:

•    If you or someone you know is HIV-positive, seek support here

•    Support Caracole by volunteering or getting involved by attending an upcoming event

•    Support Caracole financially or through in-kind donations.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Eleven local communities receive grants to increase physical fitness opportunities

Eleven area communities and organizations are the recipients of Interact for Health grants to develop or improve upon spaces for physical activity.
“It’s all about creating infrastructure in places where people can be physically active,” says Jaime Love, Interact for Health’s program officer for healthy eating and active living.
The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, for example, was one the eleven organizations awarded; and as a result, Latonia Elementary School will be the site of a new area from which the whole community can benefit.
“They worked in partnership to convert the dilapidated playground at the school and turn it into a community park,” Love says. “So there’ll be a new playground, fitness equipment—there’ll be a walking track—and it really will be something that both the school and the community residents can enjoy.”
Other organizations will receive things like a pool lift to increase accessibility, and exercise equipment to add to a fitness trail.
According to Love, creating a culture of wellness where people have easy access to physical activity is the goal.
“We want to encourage public places that are free of charge as well, because we know cost can be a barrier to some people being able to participate,” Love says.
“So when we have lots of public spaces that are safe and up to date and easily accessible—people can walk or bike to them, they’re not too far away from their homes—that just increases the likelihood that they can get out with their family and friends and have some activity on a regular basis.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the 11 physical activity and environments grantees, and make use of the spaces when they become available for use.

•    If you're interested in applying for a grant to receive funds for physical activity environments in 2015, there is still time. Proposals are due by noon, May 1. 

•    Connect with Interact for Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Personal Guardianship Services connects with clients by taking family dogs on visits

Wanda Bevington founded Personal Guardianship Services in 2003, and since that time, the nonprofit has served the needs of its clients by helping them make integral financial and medical decisions.
“We’re court-appointed decision-makers,” Bevington says. “But we’re also that family member they don’t have.”
According to Bevington, no one wants to have a guardian, so it’s important to make the experience as meaningful as possible.
One way the guardians do that is by taking their personal pets, Haylee, Mocha, Sadie and Thor, respectively, along with them on nursing and group home visits.
“We had a client, and it initially seemed like there wasn’t anything we could do to connect with her,” Bevington says. “So we went to the nursing home, knocked on her door, and asked, ‘Do you like dogs?’ And the response was, 'No, I love dogs!’ And it’s that conversation piece—it calms people down—just being able to pet the dogs.”
Oftentimes, the visits from the guardians and their dogs are the only ones PGS clients have to look forward to; so the organization takes an initially difficult-to-accept situation for an individual and turns the experience into a positive one.
“We try to visit our clients every month, or someone from the office visits them every month. Even if it’s not a guardian, they really look forward to it,” Bevington says. “And once they begin to connect with us—most of our clients don’t have any visitors at all—it just really helps them.”

Do Good: 

Contact PGS if you're interested in becoming a board member, or if you would like to support the organization. 

• If you are a local groomer, contact Wanda if you would be interested in donating your services. Dogs require frequent grooming because of clients' fragile skin. 
• PGS just joined Facebook. Help welcome them to the social networking community by liking their page and sharing it with your friends.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Girls on the Run to celebrate 10 years and 10,000 girls

Girls on the Run Cincinnati will celebrate its 10-year anniversary May 10 as 104 teams of girls cross the finish line of what will be, for many of them, their first 5k

“We like to say it’s a party with a race at the end,” says Mary Gaertner, GotR senior program manager. 

And according to Gaertner, there’s a lot to celebrate this season. In addition to 10 years of inspiring third- through eighth-grade girls with self-confidence, the nonprofit will also celebrate coaching its 10,000th girl. 

“There’s definitely a few girls I can think of that this is maybe the first physical activity they’ve done, and they went on to run cross country in high school,” Gaertner says. “Or they credit it with giving them the confidence to stand up to bullies or to pursue other goals they have.” 

By the time the race occurs, the girls will have spent six hours a week for the past 12 weeks engaging in a lesson-based curriculum that incorporates running; so the event is a culmination of their hard work. 

“My favorite thing is to stand at the finish line, and when you see the girls coming and they see that finish line in site, they understand what they’ve done,” Gaertner says. “It’s a delayed gratification to work 12 weeks for something—it’s significant.” 

Do Good:

• Support GotR by registering for the 5k or by volunteering at the event. 

• If you are participating in a race with any organization, support GotR by joining the SoleMates program.

Register your girl for the fall session of GotR, or sign up to be a volunteer coach.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Poverty simulation provides deeper understanding of being poor

It’s one thing to read about and become knowledgeable about the culture of poverty, but for Joan Kaup, executive director of Social Venture Partners Cincinnati, it doesn’t compare to actually living the experience.
SVP Cincinnati is composed of engaged philanthropists who assist nonprofits in better achieving their missions; so for Kaup, truly understanding what it’s like to live in poverty will help SVP better serve its investees.
“I want the deeper understanding. I want the empathy,” Kaup says.
To gain that deeper understanding, SVP is producing a poverty simulation for its partner units and anyone else that wants to have a conversation about why 316,000 adults and 167,000 children from the Tri-State are living in poverty, and what can be done about it.
“We’ll come in and get our personalities, so maybe we’re paired with two other people—one of the kids is in sixth grade, one’s dropped out of high school, mom has a medical condition,” Kaup says.
“You’ll have 10-minute ‘days’ only to find that now here you are out of time, out of money—you used all your food stamps, public transportation is running late, you didn’t get to your job on time, didn’t get your children on time—it’s these kinds of things that happen with the lifestyle.”
The event will take place Thursday from 5:30-8 p.m. at The E.W. Scripps Company.
“In this country we now have a culture of poverty,” Kaup says. “You have families who are third-generation poverty—it’s a different mindset and culture—so how can we learn to respect and support each other from a cultural standpoint?” 

Do Good: 

RSVP to attend the poverty simulation.

• If you're interested in learning more about venture philanthropy, contact Joan Kaup. 

• Consider becoming a partner.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

207 Health + Wellness Articles | Page: | Show All
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