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Austin will soon become stronger and healthier

Friday, August 25, 2017 by Jessi Devenyns

Austin’s underserved communities are about to become healthier. Stronger Austin is a health initiative that strives to offer equitable access to services that promote health within historically marginalized communities. Districts 1 through 4 are the first on the list to receive services from this program. Although the program has not yet launched, Baker Harrell, the president and CEO of It’s Time Texas, told the Parks and Recreation Board Tuesday that Stronger Austin has already secured $1 million in outside funding from philanthropic and state-funded sources. He described the program saying, “This is not It’s Time Texas or the Parks and Recreation Department telling the community what it needs, it’s us asking.” In the short term, this initiative hopes to give the community a real platform to improve the health of their community and their neighborhoods. Long term, Stronger Austin hopes to increase the overall health status in lower-income communities. Commissioner Michael Casias commended Harrell and said, “You’re being creative in bringing this into the community.” However, he did inquire as to whether there was a written partnership agreement. Staff responded that it is currently in draft, to which Casias said, “We’d like to see it at the contracts and concessions committee.” The other commissioners applauded the effort, and Chair Jane Rivera said, “We really appreciate this program and we think it’s going to be a good program and can’t wait to see it expand.”

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