Letters to the editor

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Readers asks school board to improve safety
School shootings are a threat all must recognize and respond to. Therefore, I ask everyone to call on the Clay School Board to implement immediate, substantial and sustainable security measures at our schools to protect our students and education staff.
There is no single, quick fix to this issue. Many have recently called for gun control or arming education staff. While these are discussions worth having, the outcomes and benefits of those debates are uncertain and will be slow to implement. Actual, physical security measures are the quickest and most reliable method to directly address the threat of school shootings.
Security is common sense, what is infinitely more difficult to address is the fact that often school shooters are themselves school children or very young. This leads to very uncomfortable questions as to the mental and existential state of today’s youth.
The young person driven to become a school shooter is very rare but across America we see more and more youth, teens and even pre-teens with social and emotional problems. This has a very negative effect on those individuals, the people around them, and on society as a whole. How we got to this point and what to do to chart a more positive course requires real thought and hard decisions.

Travis Christensen
Lake Asbury

Editor’s Note: Travis Christensen is a declared candidate for Clay County School Board District 5.


Healthy Start funding in jeopardy in Legislature

 Since the creation of Florida’s 32 statewide Healthy Start Coalitions in 1991, our state’s infant mortality has dropped by 35 percent due in part to the program’s comprehensive approach to prenatal and infant care and education.

But now, Healthy Start funding is in jeopardy due to proposed budget cuts. The potential impact on our community would be significant, threating families’ access to Healthy Start services such as education and support for families including infant care and safe sleep, pregnancy care and preparing for baby’s arrival, screening and referrals for perinatal depression, substance abuse, child development, and much more.

The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition leads the community effort to reduce infant mortality and is a recognized model and catalyst for community involvement, collaboration and innovative services. In 2016-17, the Coalition leveraged an additional $4.16 million in federal and private funding for families in Northeast Florida.

With strong partnerships, we have created a continuum of support before, during and after pregnancy that ensures our babies have the best possible start in life and celebrate their first birthday. We work with families to support their health and wellbeing, and engage partners throughout the region to join in the effort to address the underlying societal & structural root causes of infant mortality and poor birth outcomes.

In 2016, 47 more babies lived to age one in the region than did in 1991. That’s 47 babies whose potential was lost, who would be adults today contributing to the economy and possible raising families of their own.

There have been other successes in Clay County since the start of Healthy Start:

· The infant mortality rate for the county is 33 percent lower in the last three years than it was before Healthy Start began.

·       The teen birth rate has dropped by 62 percent.

·       There has been a 61 percent drop in women who smoke during pregnancy.

·       There has been a 40 percent increase in the number of mothers who initiate breastfeeding in the last 15 years.

Our moms, dads and babies are healthier because of Healthy Start – but for so many families it is more than just a source of education, interventions and resources. Our Healthy Start care coordinators become part of the family and lifelong friends – they provide invaluable support at a critical point in lives of our participants.

“I am confident that I would not be the mother, or person that I am today, if it were not for the education and support I received from Healthy Start,” said one of our participants. “I can’t say for sure if my son would even be here today.’

Healthy Start is a cost-effective model that contributes to Florida’s better birth outcomes. Every dollar that the Florida Legislature invests in supporting Healthy Start has an incredible return on investment in costs saved from preventing death among infants and mothers by bridging the gap to prenatal care and education.

We urge concerned readers to express their support of Healthy Start to their state legislators as final budget decisions unfold in the days ahead.

Kenneth Scarborough & Guy Benrubi, M.D.

Board Chair & Board Member

Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition








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