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Douglass Park neighborhood community advisory board advocates lasting change

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:43 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Douglass Park neighborhood has remained the unbreakable center of Columbia. It has a rich African-American history, rooted in culture and bountiful in assets. This tenacious community has either drawn to it or birthed dedicated activists that have helped shape the political and social landscapes of Columbia. It is neither an accident nor a surprise that these individuals were drawn to live, work or serve in the Douglass Park neighborhood. Without these individuals’ commitment, sacrifice and service to the community, we wouldn’t be in a position to celebrate such a rich heritage. These examples are etched in my thoughts as I serve the community. The lessons of the past, the opportunities of the present and the excitement of the future makes me proud to be a Columbian.

Although I was not born in Columbia, I live in Columbia, and I am committed to and invested in the community. I am ready to lend a hand, give of my time and promote enriching activities that will benefit all Columbians.

I am learning that it is important to advocate for the community to bring about lasting change. One way I have done so is to be involved in the creation of the “Go 1st Ward" Community Advisory Board. This grassroots organization was formed to be a “clearinghouse” for private and public organizations, foundations and individuals who want to initiate programming that promotes physical activities and health issues within the First Ward and low-income communities.

Throughout the community advisory board's inception, we have pledged to get the citizens of the First Ward involved at every step of the process. We continuously look to identify those individuals who share that vision and mission of making certain the voice of the community is heard clearly and unmistakably. In addition, leadership development and job creation are vital components of the board because we cannot afford to talk about healthy eating and physical activity without providing some answers as to how to place food on the table and to pay for those physical activities. We must remain optimistic, patient and committed to stay the course that leads to a brighter future.

One issue that should be important to everyone in our community is childhood obesity and unhealthy living. These lead to other health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. We can all work together to help produce a brighter future for our children and for generations to come by setting the standard of healthy living today.

I have witnessed the tenacity of the residents of the Douglass Park neighborhood. It is this resolve that gives me a deep appreciation and love for Columbia. I pledge to continue to listen to those who want to share their experiences, expertise and encouragement in support of our goal of making Columbia a better place for everyone. For information about the community advisory board, you may e-mail me at samrue3powerplayers@gmail.com or call me at 573-356-3037. We meet at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. For those who attend, we serve a potluck-style healthy meal at every meeting.

Sam Robinson is a member of the Community Advisory Board, which focuses on health and physical activity in the First Ward. Robinson said he is dedicated to serving the community and hopes the community comes to understand his role in it. This column first appeared in the April 9 Douglass Neighborhood Newsletter. Anyone wishing to submit an article, photo or any other neighborhood-related item can do so by sending an e-mail to neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com.


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