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Discussion: Can 'For The Sake Of All' Report Change Policy In St. Louis?

Courtesy For the Sake of All

Final Report: For the Sake of All

At the end of May, the "For the Sake of All" research team published its final report on the health and well-being of African Americans in the St. Louis region, a multi-disciplinary study led by  Jason Purnell, an assistant professor with the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

A key finding from the report is that life expectancies across the St. Louis region varied by as much as 18 years, depending on where people lived. People in north St. Louis City live an average of 67 years, while people from Clayton live an average of 85 years.

Purnell and his fellow researchers at Washington University and Saint Louis University have been frequent guests on St. Louis on the Air over the past year, appearing on the show after they published each of their five policy briefs.

Now that the study is complete, the focus has shifted to whether or not the findings can effect real change.

A key goal of the study was to demonstrate how the well-being of African Americans impacts the St. Louis region as a whole by looking at how health and education disparities affect the region’s economy.

“It’s a powerful statement about education, linked to economic opportunity, linked to long-term life expectancy, linked to economic vibrancy and vitality of an entire region,” explained Sandra Moore, president of St. Louis-based Urban Strategies. “It is the carry-through thread that we’ve got to start to look for and look at. And I think there is no better place than starting at health because health is a way of neutralizing the conversation.”

But will a rundown of the economic impact be enough to encourage policymakers to implement the report’s recommendations?  

Jason Purnell is hopeful.

“There is something in the air in St. Louis right now where we are beginning to think outside our silos,” said Purnell. “We’re starting in this community to have conversations across our silos, across our sectors, and I’m actually hopeful that this sort of feeds into that tributary and becomes something stronger.”

To Chris Krehmeyer, president of Beyond Housing, changing policy is a matter of making people care.

“The way you move politics and public policy is public sentiment,” said Krehmeyer, adding that most of the recommendations are common sense policies that can be implemented if enough people have the courage and conviction to follow through on pushing for change.

For more on the final report and its policy recommendations, see Véronique LaCapra’s article. To listen to the St. Louis on the Air policy brief discussions, see the list of For the Sake of All posts.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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