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June 17, 2015

Andy Hall with Barbara JimenezOn June 16, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) held the Live Well San Diego South County Thriving Summit at Southwestern College to develop opportunities for all people and communities to grow, connect and enjoy the highest quality of life.

Seventy-five representatives of community organizations and agencies attended the event, which focused on innovative thriving strategies in South County and Barrio Logan.

District 1 Supervisor Greg Cox opened the summit by acknowledging that over half of the deaths in San Diego are from chronic illnesses that could be prevented by curbing behaviors such as lack of physical activity, bad diet and tobacco use. He called for schools, nonprofits, businesses and government agencies to identify gaps in services, share resources and work together to solve problems.

The summit then proceeded with a panel discussion on top issues in the South Bay, including health and well-being, economy, education and workforce development.

Barbara Jiménez, Director of Central and South Regions for HHSA, and official host of the event, addressed the panel and attendees by talking about the self-sufficiency of the region and acknowledging the dedication and commitment of community partners working to lift people out of concentrated poverty.

On the panel were Arnulfo Manriquez, President and CEO of the MAAC Project, Kathryn Lembo, President and CEO of South Bay Community Services, José Cruz, Executive Director of the Barrio Logan College Institute and Andy Hall, Vice President and Chief Program Officer of San Diego Workforce Partnership.

HHSA Director Nick Macchione moderated and started the discussion by saying that other communities nationwide are replicating the Live Well San Diego model, and that the South Bay in particular has seen innovative ideas from community-based organizations that serve the area’s 473,000 residents.

For instance, to improve education in the region, Lembo talked about the need for parent participation, 30 hours or more of computer-based and imagined learning per week and having tutors in the classroom. To build better collaboration, Cruz stressed the importance of building long-standing relationships and finding partners long before funding is available.

A community is “only as good as those living well,” said Macchione. He cited the breakdown of the family unit as the number one threat to living well, with few solutions at the federal level. It is because of this that community-based organizations form an important part of the solution to create a thriving San Diego.

“Thriving,” or living longer and happier lives, is the third component of Live Well San Diego, a long-term initiative begun in 2010 to improve the health, safety and quality of life of San Diego County residents. Life expectancy, or longevity, is one of the top 10 indicators of a healthy, safe and thriving San Diego County carefully selected with input gathered from community representatives.

One of the components of a thriving community, according to Hall, is access to good jobs (defined as one with 30+ hours of work a week with a consistent paycheck from an employer).

Hall pointed out “many jobs that exist now didn’t exist 15 to 20 years ago when we were building educational systems.” He suggested this skills gap could be tackled through research, funding job training programs, and a workforce investment board like SDWP that convenes and connects partner agencies and businesses to find solutions.

In addition to technical skills, soft skills were identified as just as important in staying competitive as a job seeker. SDWP is currently working on promoting awareness of soft skills and ways to improve them by disseminating research findings to schools and workforce development partners.

Under the Live Well San Diego thriving plan, strategies to improve regional workforce include expanding collaboration among workforce planning, education, community-based organizations and government agencies, creating pathways to careers, and strengthening community members’ literacy to support stable families.



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