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National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

9 Sep


By: Cindy Webb, MSSA, LISW-S

NASW Ohio Chapter Executive Director

With September being National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month I encourage social workers to recognize the important role you play in battling the obesity issue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that annual spending related to overweight and obese Americans is more than $264 billion — exceeding what we spend on tobacco-related illnesses each year. Results from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese. The impact is far more than a dollar concern. The health of children have a far reaching impact on family and community as well as a psychosocial impact when obese children become are targets of early and systematic social discrimination which may hinder academic and social functioning.

The CDC provides helpful tips to parents on how to prevent childhood overweight and obesity. It encourages balance calories consumed with physical activity and normal growth. This is certainly sage advice for many, but what about the families with significant barriers?

• What about the families living in their car or under a bridge? The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio reporting 4,813 parents and children were homeless in 2010. The homeless rates for children are drastically increasing. Here is where social workers will need to work with these families to assist them in obtaining basic needs while teaching them how to find healthy food choices.

• Another barrier is literacy. In the National Adult Literacy in Ohio Survey, Jenkins and Kirsch found 16 – 18% of Ohio Respondents are on a level 1 and 37% on a level 2. “Individuals in Levels 1 and 2 …. appeared to have considerable difficulty with tasks that required them to integrate or synthesize information from complex or lengthy texts or to perform quantitative tasks in which the individual had to set up the problem and then perform two or more.” Parents without this barrier struggle with these calculations. Social workers can work with these families to find ways to reduce the confusion and manage making good choices without having to deal with cumbersome calculations.

Encouraging healthy eating habits is critical. Here is where social workers will need to connect families to fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products and to advocate for the availability of those foods. Many of our inner city and rural impoverished communities do not have super markets that provide these options, and when they do the high cost becomes a barrier. Once availability is addressed, families may need assistance in food preparation or in obtaining resources to prepare food. Advocacy, resource acquisition, and education are essential in supporting healthy eating habits for many of our Ohio families.

Activity plays a role in health. Adding physical activity to one’s day is important especially outdoors. What about the communities that are considered war zones? Many families must protect their children from gunfire and other violent acts which invariably leads to keeping children off the streets and inside their homes. As a social worker, you can assist the family in finding safe outlets for children to be physically active and also safe.

The role of the social work profession is very clear in this battle. We, as social workers, must work with our families, communities, and institutions to bring about change for all Ohioans if we are to eliminate obesity in our children.

Healthcare for those without

28 Jul

By Cindy Webb, MSSA, LISW-S

NASW Ohio Chapter Executive Director

As I am struggling to find affordable health insurance for staff in our small office it leads me to ponder the thousands among us who are without basic health services.

Several years ago a man from Cleveland, Zac Ponsky, struggled with the fact that he lived in a city of world class health facilities yet there were Ohioans who had no access to health services. This led him to create MedWorks, a non-profit organization committed to improving access to healthcare for Ohio’s uninsured and underinsured.

MedWorks has provided free medical, dental, and eye care services to thousands of people. The MedWorks events have been made possible through donations and countless volunteer hours of professionals and lay members of the community. Social workers have been at the forefront of this effort, volunteering countless hours to meet the challenging needs of patients coming from Ohio and nearby states.

I especially wish to thank the social workers that came to help this past May, some working the whole event from 6:30 am on Saturday morning to 6:00 pm Sunday evening. Social workers traveled from Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Strasburg, and Youngstown to work with social workers from the Cleveland area. I was proud to be part of this team that offered to provide whatever assistance was needed to help the long lines of people seeking care.

The event have raised my awareness of just how close I am to being the one in line instead of the one assisting the line. I spoke with many individuals with masters degrees, one a social worker, who lost her job and with it her insurance. Beside those who had recently lost health insurance were many who had never had insurance, one man stating it had been 30 years since he had seen a doctor.

So why do I tell you this? MedWorks is seeking donations. Zac Ponsky is opening his home to a Backyard MedWorks event. Join me at the event or send a few dollars to support MedWorks through their website


Who is Fred?

Fred doesn’t have health insurance

Fred has a full time job, bu still can’t afford health insurance.

Fred has health insurance, but can’t afford his deductible.

Fred can afford his deductible, but can’t afford his copay.

We all know Fred……… let’s help him out!



$30 entry fee / $50 per couple

Cheap food / Cheap drinks / Cheap games ** Bring Lots O’ Cash!!! **

Free Fun & Music for a great cause!


Host: MedWorks

Location: Ponsky Backyard – 37200 Fairmount Blvd. Hunting Valley, OH 44022

When: Saturday, August 7, 7:00PM Add to my Outlook Calendar

Please RSVP to

To volunteer or make a donation, please visit

More Info/Questions: Contact Julie 216.231.5350 or

MedWorks is a non-profit organization committed to improving access to healthcare for Ohio’s uninsured and underinsured. MedWorks provides an innovative vehicle through which healthcare providers, corporate sponsors and other volunteers can provide free healthcare, education and other services.

Saving the Medical Social Work Profession

30 Jun
 By: Sarah Luker  

NASW Ohio Chapter Intern    



Lately I have been hearing about the dying profession of medical social work. How can this be? As social workers we do such a great job in the hospitals and residential facilities that there is no way we could be pushed out of the medical profession! But are we as needed as we think we are? This is precisely what I would like to find out.    Social work, as we all know, is underappreciated and an underpaid profession in general. Now, more than ever there seems to be a significant job deterioration and value within the hospital setting. Recently, I have heard more and more concerns about people’s jobs and what this issue is doing to the profession of social work. I think that this should be an issue not only for medical social workers but for all social workers. Be aware that this affects our profession, its creditability, and the future of social work.     

For over 100 years, Social Workers have been leaders in the Medical field

As an intern at the NASW Ohio Chapter it has been my personal mission to advocate for medical social work. In doing this I have began researching medical social work and the roles that we play in the hospital. I also have stared to draft a survey for nurses who we work side by side with in the hospitals. Now, the reason why this survey is directed towards nurses is because they seem to be the  profession we are competing with in the hospitals. In order for us to move forward we need to know the perception other professionals.  In light of this, the purpose of the survey is to see what the nurse’s perspective is on medical social works and if they ultimately see any value in what we do. The eventual goal is for us to be able to work together with nurses, doctors and other medical professionals as a collaborative team. Not fighting each other over who is going to keep their job and constantly stepping on each other’s toes.     

For everyone reading this, let me know what you think about this issue and what could be done to save the medical social works profession. As I said before the NASW and I are in the process of researching and so any help would be appreciated. If there are any suggestions please let me know. This is a large and continuing issue that needs to be addressed at this time.