Revitalizing Education & Advancing Camden's Health

Camden Background

Recent national media attention has focused on the appalling health conditions for residents in Camden City, New Jersey. In a city infamous for crime and poverty, it is not surprising that there are multiple, high-risk health issues prevalent as well. Those most directly impacted are the younger generations. Therefore, we must intervene with the youth of Camden immediately and educate students to their fullest potential so they can effectively contribute to a changing society.

Numerous data has shown existence of complex, chronic health issues in Camden. One out of every two Camden residents had visited the local emergency rooms (ER) at least once in 2003. Interestingly, the most frequent users of the ER tend to be the insured, which reflects the lack of health services available for this population. In 2006, 38% of Camden residents were obese and 45% of the population smoked every day—these are risky lifestyles contributing to high rates of chronic illnesses. Accounting for the large fraction of the population are the younger generations, with one half of the city under 25 years of age.
[Camden Facts: http://www.camconnect.org ]

It is crucial to intervene with the youth to reverse the current health trends in the community. In 2006, one out of four children in Camden City was born to a teenager. Also, a recent report by the Camden City Police Department stated that the juvenile offense rate more than tripled from ages 10-12 to ages 13-14—these are primarily middle school students. Furthermore, Camden’s public education system is failing, with too many students not pursuing secondary education. One in four Camden City high school students does not graduate. As one of the poorest cities in the United States, with 44% of the population in poverty, critics may argue that correlation exists between poor neighborhoods and its deficient school systems. However, a recent report by the Education Law Center showed that, in contrast to public education systems in similar poverty-stricken urban cities, Camden students did much worse in academic proficiency exams with each progressing year. Altogether, these statistics may be attributable to psycho-social and environmental health issues. Therefore, it is imperative to work in conjunction with the Camden public schools for the betterment of the community.