Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:
Women and people of color are among the municipal leaders throughout the county. In all plans, projects and services, Kershaw County strives to accurately reflect residents and businesses. When the county school district accepted construction bids for three new schools, special consideration was given to general contractors committed to giving local businesses a legitimate opportunity to bid on the work and a job fair was held to reach local subcontractors. Transparency and accessibility are goals, from hiring practices that endeavor to ensure all communities are aware of vacancies, to ensuring residents are better informed about when and where public forums and official meetings are held.
1.) Health and Wellness
Community Medical Clinic (CMC) launched a program called LiveWell Kershaw, a population-based care approach to improving health outcomes in Kershaw County.
In collaboration with the University of South Carolina and the state health and human services department, LiveWell Kershaw began with a county-wide health assessment and followed with a health improvement plan. Eat Smart/Move More Kershaw County and the KershawHealth hospital system provided start-up funding. From data gathered, LiveWell Kershaw discovered a health crisis in an underpopulated rural region with six major zip codes and 21% living below poverty.
LiveWell Kershaw employed three strategies to improve the health outcomes of residents in this area:
One of the most significant and impactful programs is the health equity bus tours, which focuses on community health statistics, patient challenges and successes, and health care service expansions.
2.) Children and Education
A successful program that emerged from a five-year Safe Schools/Healthy Students multi-million-dollar grant and continues to thrive is the Jackson Teen Center. Residents raised money and collected furnishings for the center, which opened in the summer of 2014. The World Venture Foundation funded a new gym floor, with other community partners purchasing bleachers, new basketball goals, and paint for the facility. Unique programs offered are music production and “Job Readiness for Teens” (JRT) program, an after-school and summer employability skills training program.
Kershaw County seeks to develop future leaders through Junior Leadership Kershaw County, a partnership with the Kershaw Chamber of Commerce, KCSD, and Camden Military Academy. Up to 32 high school students are selected for this program, which offers hands-on leadership opportunities.
Another challenge that the community addressed is recreational needs of families with special needs children, who make up 11.2% of the student population; they had to travel more than 35 miles to an accessible playground. Through focus groups, surveys, and public meetings, the rendering of a state-of-the-art playground was developed. Volunteers led the project, raised $300,000 and built the ADA-accessible playground in 14 months. It is the first ADA compliant playground in Kershaw County and one of only 15 in an 11-county region.
These community leaders have now created a formal non-profit organization, PLAY (Place of Learning for Active Youth) Foundation. The foundation is building a Farmers’ Market Pavilion with a community garden and educational space in downtown Camden.
In early 2015, Kershaw County Council envisioned a plan capable of uniting our citizens and preparing our county for the future. Out of that discussion arose, VisionKershaw 2030, which was developed through a comprehensive visioning process that collected information from county residents, community leaders and business owners.
The public engagement process lasted several months and included over 32 outreach events held at volunteer fire stations, churches, government buildings and schools. Staff offered workshops to a diverse cross section of organizations, including the local NAACP chapter and youth leaders. Materials were available in Spanish, and staff answered questions during the annual multi-cultural festival. Of the attendees, over 60% were female, approximately 15% were minorities, and every age demographic was represented. Surveys were also distributed at events and via a dedicated website.
The vision has eight core goals:
Since its creation, all local municipalities have adopted VisionKershaw 2030. Kershaw County Council annually discusses aligning the budget with the vision plan. Numerous private enterprises and public entities reference the vision in planning and budgets.
A list of accomplishments would include: