Equity-focused programs like Recreation Worcester and a Youth Violence Prevention Initiative have made New England’s second-largest city one of 10 recipients of the 2020-2021 Culture Award. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Worcester is recognized nationally with the award for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together around a common vision for health, officials said. The award honors communities who work to advance health, opportunity and equity.

“The 2020-2021 RWJF Health Culture Award winners strive to make health and wellness accessible to all of their residents,” said Richard Besser, President and CEO of RWJF. “They understand the obvious link between opportunities in health and education, employment and housing. They are looking at community solutions that break down barriers caused by structural racism and other forms of discrimination. “

Recreation Worcester gives teens a chance to be mentors for neighborhood children and the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative empowers young people to develop comprehensive solutions to stem violence. Worcester also has the Southeast Asian Coalition, where children have a space to participate in constructive after-school programs and food justice programs that include mobile farmers’ markets and employment initiatives for the urban agriculture for young people.

“We have an obligation in these positions of responsibility and power to make sure we bring in those who don’t have access to opportunities,” said Ronald Waddell Jr., executive director of Legendary Legacies and co-chair of the Coalition for a Great healthy Worcester. “I think we have a mandate that goes back to what America was and what this experience of the United States hoped to be.”

To become a winner, Worcester had to demonstrate how he excelled in six criteria:

  • Define health in the broadest terms possible.
  • Engage in sustainable systems changes and long-term policy-driven solutions.
  • Create conditions that give everyone a fair and equitable opportunity to achieve the best possible health.
  • Maximize the collective power of leaders, partners and community members.
  • Secure and make the most of available resources.
  • Measure and share progress and results.

Worcester will receive a $ 25,000 prize and its achievements will be shared across the country.

City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said winning the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Award “is great validation of the work being done by the community.”

The other nine winning communities are Addison, Illinois; Alamosa County, Colorado; Chickaloon Indigenous Village; Drew, Mississippi; Howard County, Maryland; National City, California; Palm Beach County, Florida; Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and community of Thunder Valley — Oglala Lakota Nation (Oceti Sakowin Territory).

Worcester joins Everett, Chelsea, Cambridge, Fall River and Lawrence as the sixth community in Massachusetts to win the award.

This year’s winners will be honored by the foundation on November 9 and 10 at a virtual event.

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