Norwood, Ohio received its 100 Best recognition because of the many initiatives supporting youth development throughout the community. The city leadership prioritizes its youth through departments such as the Recreation Commission and the Health Department.
Many of Norwood’s after- school activities are based on interests and suggestions from students, including the newspaper and photography, and skateboarding clubs. Recently, students were given top national honors for a science exhibit featuring images captured by the Harvard-Smithsonian MicroObervatory Robotic Telescopes and controlled by students.
The 10-year-old Norwood Community Coalition (NCC) includes the Norwood Public Library, several churches, Job's Daughters (a youth program of the Masonic Lodge), YWCA-HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-school Youngsters), the Caleb-Tate Fuller Foundation, Family and Children First Council, school personnel and the Norwood Health Department. The group meets monthly to organize community-wide trainings, maintains a community calendar and promotes 40 Developmental Assets as a unifying strategy for meeting the needs of youth. To address the national silent epidemic of childhood sexual abuse, the Community Coalition has challenged Norwood to train 500 individuals to protect youth through the prevention program Darkness to Light. The student-founded and led Gay/Straight Alliance provides weekly support and education to high school students in collaboration with the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network. Through the work of NCC, high school graduation rates have been increasing.
Norwood helps ensure a healthy start for its youth through innovative collaborative work among local schools, the Health Department, neighborhood dental and physician offices and community organizations. The Norwood Health Department works closely with Norwood Community Schools to provide immunizations, referral services and home health visits by nurses. Teachers have stepped up as role models by initiating walking/running programs and practicing tobacco free and healthy eating behaviors. A dental grant was secured through the Norwood Health Department City Block grant which offers preventative treatment to all K-8 students regardless of income, including cleaning, fluoride and sealants. Children's Hospital has awarded a grant to provide nutrition and fitness classes to 6-8th graders.
Four years ago, administrators developed the Freshman Academy. Both a physical place and a philosophical shift, the Academy offers protection from potential high school pitfalls. Freshmen have the same few teachers and are personally known. Credit Recovery is offered to juniors and seniors who are deficient in credits. This self-paced computer program allows students to make up credits and graduate on time. Over $100,000 is distributed annually to seniors through the Norwood Scholarship Fund. Norwood Community Schools is working to build a funding base to make local college tuition available to all graduating seniors.