FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2020
The Legacy Foundation of Southeastern Arizona (LFSAZ) recently approved funding for a Benson Hospital and University of Arizona Cooperative Extension collaborative project to provide early childhood care and education sites in Cochise County with clear face masks. Through the LFSAZ COVID-19 Relief Grant program, many agencies,
organizations, nonprofits and community members in Cochise County have concentrated and collaborated on improving community health directly related to the pandemic. Several of these efforts can be traced back to the Legacy Foundation of Southern Arizona funding provided to the Building Healthy Communities Initiative, an initiative based on the Collective Impact; which is and continues to be “a useful approach for organizing and aligning a community during an emergency, especially when there is a solid foundation of relationships and skills” (Schmitz, P. 2020, The Collective Impact Forum).
The approved grant funds were used to purchase 8 cases of clear face masks for preschools and daycares in Cochise County. Benson Hospital, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Cochise Health & Social Services, and First Things First regularly partner on early childhood health and wellness initiatives and together identified the need for single-use, clear masks to protect young students and teachers/staff from illness while maintaining optimal social-emotional communication.
Childcare and early childhood education services are essential to the Cochise County community, and the staff who work tirelessly to care for and educate children deserve resources to continue providing quality education and remain safe from infection. One mother advocating for the clear face masks expressed her reasoning for wanting her childcare center to have the masks, stating that young children “learn through everyday interactions with the adults around them, and these interactions help shape their language skills, self-esteem, develop trust, empathy, and even gain a sense of what is right or wrong. Research shows that the face you wear matters in children aged 0-5 worlds, so they should not be covered.”
This project is only the latest collaborative effort to support communities, and the most recent example of Benson Hospital acting as a hub for community health. Other initiatives that Benson Hospital is actively leading or supporting includes their new Diaper Bank Distribution Site, the County-wide Stock Inhaler Project, and support of affordable produce access in the Benson area.
“No ne organization can accomplish the incredible things that a collaboration can. The success of this initiative is a testament to the strong relationships and shared visions in Cochise County!” Rhegan Derfus, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
The 3,456 masks will be delivered across the County over the next month, providing children with more opportunities for positive and safe learning opportunities.
Points of Contact/Leads:
Community Development Specialist
Joseph “Sepp” Spriestma
Building Healthy Community Initiative
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension- Cochise County