Modesto Bee invites you to a special Influencers event on children, senior health. Join us Thursday

RSVP here for this event Thursday at the Gallo Center.

Moms and dads. Sons and daughters with elderly or suffering parents. Educators. Health professionals. Local government leaders.

If you fall into this category, you’ll want to be at the Gallo Center for the Arts on the morning of Thursday, June 13, when top local and state experts discuss issues — and solutions — tied to our families, most specifically, our children and seniors.

**Visit our Facebook event page here**

These two critical and growing populations will be the focus of The Modesto Bee’s California Priorities event — Focus on Health Care: How do we solve for issues facing our families from children to seniors?

The Thursday morning panel discussions — from 9-11 a.m. — will broach various topics and policies, including, but not limited to:

  • Childhood obesity and overall care
  • Cell phone/media use and substance use disorder among children
  • Access to healthcare
  • The relationship between schools and healthcare providers
  • Housing and prescription drug costs for seniors
  • In-home care of the elderly
  • Handling dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Contending with senior isolation

The event is divided into two panels — the first, starting at 9 a.m., focuses on children. It will be followed by a second panel on seniors. Members of the community are invited to attend and registration is free. Questions also will be taken from the audience. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m., with coffee available.

“Integral to becoming a healthy community is not only acknowledging key issues vital to residents, but finding solutions,” said Brian Clark, The Bee’s editor. “Our hope is to start and continue a conversation with both local and state experts that will eventually lead to real change in how we care for our children and elderly.

“One of The Bee’s missions is to serve the community and be at the center of important discussions.”

The children’s panelists are:

  • Deborah Kong of the Packard Foundation. She is the program officer for the Children, Families, and Communities program.
  • David Jones, executive director of First 5 Stanislaus whose agency’s focus is to invest in Stanislaus County programs dedicated to giving families and children their best start possible.
  • Le Ondra Clark Harvey of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies. She’s developing a bill that would help lay people recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness among children.
  • Leslie Abasta-Cummings, chief executive officer of Livingston Community Health, a clinic whose patients are primarily the uninsured, rural and migrant families and the working poor.

Stanislaus County children rank generally in the middle to lower half of state county rankings in everything from obesity and asthma to abuse.

“Our children face challenges and basic human needs every day,” Jones said. “Adequate food, clothing, and shelter ... those things that so many take for granted, a huge number of children struggle with on a daily basis.”

It’s also a critical time in the state for a booming population of seniors.

According to the California Department of Aging, the population aged 60 and over in Stanislaus County is expected to grow from 150-200 percent from 2010 to 2060. In neighboring Merced and San Joaquin County, growth is set at over 200 percent, the highest in the state.

The senior panelists are:

  • Jeffrey Lewis, president and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment, which provides funding and technical support to create health care solutions in and around Stanislaus and Merced counties.
  • Jeannee Parker Martin, President & CEO of LeadingAge California, which is a state leader in the strategic development of innovative healthcare programs.

  • Kassy Perry, President & CEO, Perry Communications Group, a public affairs firm in Sacramento and adviser to The Scan Foundation, whose focus is ensuring our seniors age with dignity and independence. Scan and West Health are the two foundations that co-funded Perry’s work to elevate senior issues with the Newsom Administration and the Legislature.

  • Jill Erickson, manager for the Stanislaus County Area on Aging, which assists on prevention and early intervention of depression in older adults in Stanislaus County.

“As Baby Boomers age and their health needs increase, a lot of them are living independently,” said Dr. Daniel Diep, regional medical director of Golden Valley Health Centers. “They are needing more social services. They’re needing transportation, needing more nutrition. They’re also needing interaction with other people who are around their age so that they don’t decline further.”

Included in the discussion will be the county and Central Valley’s need to attract and regain doctors and specialists, which are at critical lows when compared to other regions within the state.

For more information on the event, email The Bee’s Maria Figueroa at mfigueroa@modbee.com or call 209-578-2330. You can sign up on EventBrite — just search “California Priorities.”