Author: Heather Gilligan

Hope in a Hidden Public Health Crisis

LaVerne Vaughn made a decision after she served prison time in her late 30s: She’d live the rest of her life a free woman. Vaughn, now in her early 40s, with a platinum pixie cut and a steady, empathetic gaze, kept her promise to herself. Several years after her release, she started working in violence prevention and helping ex-cons in Richmond, Calif., find their footing after prison.

Why Young People Kill

Dwayne Taylor went to a party at the Ida B. Wells housing project one mid-May night as the Chicago weather was warming to the promise of spring. Once there, according to court documents, Taylor met up with three friends and made a disastrous decision: to rob someone. They left the party and drove around until they found a victim, 21-year-old Tedrin West. Taylor carjacked, abducted and robbed West before shooting him in the back of the head. As her son lay dead in a parking lot, West’s mother called his stolen phone. A man answered.

Stopping Homicides, One Shooter at a Time

Joe McCoy is intimately familiar with the violence epidemic in his hometown of Richmond, Calif. McCoy is one of six outreach workers employed by the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), a city agency. They patrol the streets to tackle the problem of shootings and murders with an approach that seems counterintuitive. They find young men and teens—as old as 25 and as young as 13—identified as likely having been involved in previous homicides and shootings. Then they offer them mentors, access to social services, life-skills trainings and even financial support.

Children with Delays and their Parents Find Help in Play

The cheerful sound of kids and their parents signing “head, shoulders, knees and toes!” filled a classroom in San Pablo on Monday morning. Despite the smiles and laughter, the play was purposeful, part of a playgroup for children with developmental delays. If it weren’t for the playgroup, offered at the First 5 Center in San Pablo, the mostly low-income, Spanish-speaking parents may have been hard-pressed to find help for their children.

Obama Initiative to Improve Lives of Young Men of Color Announced Today

The initiative, called My Brother’s Keeper, will seek solutions to the problems that face boys and young men of color in a public-private partnership supported by a roster of major foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Annie E Casey Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the California Endowment.* A total of 10 foundations have committed to raise $200 million and pledged $7.5 million to create a blueprint and coordinate action on the initiative.

CDC: Colorectal Screening Rates Remain Low

Despite recommendations by the US Preventive Services Task Force for adults ages 50 to 75 to be tested for colorectal cancer, about one in three adults in that age range have not had the screening test, according to a new report.

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