The 19th Soar in 4 Community Conversation was hosted by Manatee NAACP president Mr. Rodney Jones at the Bradenton Village Apartments Community Center. More than thirty community members attended and provided valuable insights, concerns and dreams for their neighborhood.
“We share ideas and talked about ways we can collaborate and how we can move forward,” said co-organizer, Shelly Dorfman who is a Soar in 4 Community Advocate.
In a community conversation, community members gather in a comfortable and safe place to talk about the kind of community they want to live in, what their concerns are, and how they would like their community to move forward. Conversation Leader, Dr. Sheila Halpin explained “The goal of the community conversation is to improve our community for people of all ages in an impactful way. In order for our work to be relevant to the aspirations and needs of the community, we need to listen to community members and understand what matters to them, and we need to involve them in creating and implementing solutions.”
Soar in 4 held 6 Community Conversations, focusing on the education of their youth, in each of the targeted neighborhoods, Ballard, Rogers Garden Bullock and Sea Breeze. Teens, adults and seniors were given the chance to discuss their aspirations for their community, recognize the inspirational people that live in their neighborhood, acknowledge organizations that are making a difference in their neighborhood, and identify community resources.
The community conversations were designed to spark truthful dialogue about the neighborhood and its educational trajectory for its young children and then explore the steps that families, early learning centers, schools, churches and businesses can take to remove those barriers. The intent is to transform from individuals surviving in a neighborhood into a community that is thriving. Educational progress for young children is directly correlated to the neighborhood’s safety, school readiness, and successful and engaged parents.
Community Conversations can lead us toward a sustainable infrastructure for the Soar in 4 neighborhoods through prioritized, high quality early childhood initiatives, gaining a deeper understanding of the importance of the early years, and realigning community resources to support strong parent engagement and social connectedness.