Show Me a Baltimore Hero

Date: September 21st, 2015

Pat Paluzzi

Show Me a Hero is a new HBO miniseries by Baltimore’s own David Simon in which Mr. Simon once again looks at some of the more challenging aspects of living in America—this particular show being about housing integration in Yonkers, NY. His most recent series focused on New Orleans post-Katrina, but probably his best known is The Wire, which looked at the current woes of most urban settings in the U.S, by focusing on Baltimore, aka Charm City. Mr. Simon’s work can be harsh because it is so real. We are shown all that is bad with people and politics, but we also see the heroes among us.

As I anticipate Healthy Teen Network’s 36th annual national conference to be held in Baltimore, October 13-15th, I can’t help but think of all the heroes we have in this both challenging and charming city and want to share some of those will we hear from during our time here.

B’more for Healthy Babies was originally an infant mortality reduction initiative that now also encompasses teen pregnancy prevention, with the support of leaders from the corporate, nonprofit, academic, and government sectors. B’more for Healthy Babies has been able to make history by bringing infant mortality in Baltimore to its lowest point ever (9.7) in 2012 and reducing the teen birth rate by 32 percent from 2009 to 2013. Representatives of the Baltimore City Health Department and CareFirst will accept a Spirit of Service Award Wednesday morning. Read more…

Brandon M. Scott was sworn in as City Councilman for the 2nd District on December 8, 2011. Elected at the age of 27, he is the youngest person ever elected to the new single member district City Council. Brandon was born and raised in Baltimore and was a positive voice during the recent conflicts. He continues to advocate for Baltimore and especially its young people, serving as mentor and spokesperson.  He will receive a Spirit of Service Award Thursday morning. Read more…

Dr. Rick Barth, Dean of the School of Social Work, University of Maryland, and author of the evidence-based program, Reducing the Risk, as well as co-author of Power through Choices, the only proven effective sex education curriculum for youth in foster care, will receive this year’s Douglas B. Kirby Adolescent Research Award. Dr. Barth is an active researcher, currently involved with two federally funded projects—to create a standardized national format for adoption home studies and to maximize referrals of abused and neglected children to early intervention services.

Youth 360°: Rewiring Our Approach: Join us Thursday for a plenary session on holistic approaches to improve the lives of young people. Stories of how young people have thrived in Baltimore may not always rise to the top when we think of Charm City. More often, we might recall stories, such as those the popular HBO series, The Wire, brought to life, of an urban area filled with deprivation. However, Healthy Teen Network believes, and our panelists will affirm, with their life stories and ideas, that all young people have an opportunity for a healthy and fulfilling life. Invited panelists will share their personal experiences coming of age in Baltimore, what supports helped shape them, and what they are doing today to support and empower youth.

Jason Newton, is an award-winning reporter and co-anchor of WBAL-TV 11 News Today. He is an avid supporter of Baltimore youth, speaking at high school events, and he is actively involved in local events for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. He will moderate the Youth 360°: Rewiring Our Approach plenary session.

D. Watkins is another Baltimore native, born on the Eastside, where he still resides. He is an award-winning author, educator, and speaker who recently released his debut book, The Beast Side. His memoir, Cook Up, is slated to be released early 2016. His path demonstrates the possibilities within all of us. During the Thursday  plenary he will share his story.

Holistic Life Foundation—also participating in the Youth 360°: Rewiring Our Approach plenary—is a Baltimore-based 501(c)3 committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities. Through a comprehensive, holistic approach which helps children develop their inner lives, Holistic Life Foundation demonstrates deep commitment to learning, community, and stewardship of the environment.

Mischa Toland completes the Youth 360°: Rewiring Our Approach plenary session, sharing her personal experience growing up in Baltimore. She is an active preacher, teacher, author, and visionary leader, as well as founder of Greatness Now, a national human development company based in Baltimore, with a mission to develop viable relationships, provide quality services, create unique products, and produce inspiring publications that offer hope, build character, and improve quality of life.

Wide Angle Youth Media is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides Baltimore youth with the media education to tell their own stories and become engaged with their communities. Wide Angle supports young people making a difference through media. Join Wide Angle in a Preconference Institute on Tuesday to learn how to incorporate photography into programs and address critical social issues through photography.

“Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy” is the original quotation (F. Scott Fitzgerald), and while we have seen plenty of the tragedy that can impact life for so many in Baltimore, we invite you to come and celebrate the heroes who continue to believe in and advocate for a better life for all.

In a special one-week blog series, Show Me a Baltimore Hero, we will be highlighting each of these Baltimore Heroes. Join us each day this week to learn more about the people who bring the Charm to Charm City.

Pat Paluzzi is the President & CEO of Healthy Teen Network.

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About the Author

Patricia Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, President and CEO of Healthy Teen Network, has been active in the fields of reproductive, and maternal and child health for over 40 years, as a clinician, researcher, administrator, and advocate. Her clinical and content expertise spans the full scope of midwifery care, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, high-risk maternal child health (including pregnant teens), incorporating men into clinical services, and trauma-informed approaches.


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