The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), a nonprofit health agency dedicated to combating muscular dystrophy and related diseases, has more than 200 offices across the country, including a location in St. Louis. To help combat neuromuscular dystrophy, the MDA sponsors 200 medical clinics and supports more than 300 research projects across the globe, and is the nation's largest nongovernmental funder of scientific research to seek cures and improved treatments for more than 40 neuromuscular diseases.
Along with research and public-health education, the MDA works to improve the quality of life for people with muscular dystrophy and related diseases through a variety of efforts including its national advocacy program, summer camps for children, and support groups.
Working as a pediatrician in 2004, Dr. Joe Cangas noticed that many local children didn’t wear helmets while riding their bicycles. Concerned for their safety, he began talking to children at local schools and founded Helmets First! as his mission grew. As the Helmet Doctor, he conducts regular talks at neighborhood schools, clubs, and community centers, teaching youth about the importance of wearing helmets. His organization also runs events where it distributes free helmets to youth from low-income backgrounds after measuring their heads for the proper fit. Only with a proper fit are helmets effective at preventing traumatic head injuries. Since its inception, Helmet First! has donated more than 14,000 helmets to local youth.
In 1981, a group of North St. Louis residents gathered together to solve a problem: the decline of their historic neighborhood. Together, they formed the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, a nonprofit organization committed to preserving the history and culture of North St. Louis, which dates back to 1816. Today, the group focuses its time and manpower on maintaining and restoring historically significant buildings. In addition to construction and beautification projects, the group holds annual festivals and events to raise money for surrounding businesses, support local artists, and organize farmers' markets aimed at bringing locally sourced produce to North St. Louis.
After approving a dream application, Dream Factory volunteers meet with the child's family to organize the fulfillment of the dream, and already granted dreams include fantasy vacations and trips to meet favorite celebrities or athletes. As a result of rising airline prices, plane tickets represent the second highest cost associated with granting travel dreams. The Dream Factory needs additional help funding the costs of plane tickets to ensure that no child’s wish goes unmet.
Debate is about more than arguing a point. It is about understanding an issue so well that you can coherently defend its merits against an opponent. It requires critical-thinking skills, an understanding of facts and logic, and the ability to perform under pressure. And it can change the trajectory of a student's academic career.
The Saint Louis Urban Debate League helps youth in underserved communities rise to the challenge. Every month, more than 150 students at nine area high schools research a topic of national or international importance and make logical, fact-based arguments for action. Weekend workshops and annual tournaments pit the strongest debaters against each other for the chance to debate in ever more challenging arenas and improve their debating skills. In addition to fostering academic achievement by engaging students in their own learning, the Saint Louis Urban Debate League aims to propel students along the path to college and career success, with the ultimate goal of closing the achievement gap for students from poor or minority backgrounds.
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Food Outreach's team of staff and volunteers supports a growing number of local clients from diverse backgrounds and ages that now numbers more than 1,700 annually. To help foster a sense of community among its clients and their caregivers, Food Outreach hosts a Monday Hot Lunch program in its dining room. Guest chefs from the area or Food Outreach's own resident chef prepare the weekly three-course meal, and clients who attend enjoy restaurant style dining, complete with china, silverware, and linens. The nutritious meal changes every week, and an average of more than 100 clients attend each Monday Hot Lunch.