DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton Children’s Hospital announced on National Child Health Day (October 4) the opening of their new Center for Health Equity.

“We want our kids to achieve everything. We want the optimal health for them but we’ve got some challenges that we’ve got to take seriously,” said Jessica Saunders, Executive Director of the Center for Health Equity.

Saunders says some of those challenges include inequalities, poverty and food insecurity. Food insecurity currently impacts more than 25,000 children in Montgomery County.

“What does that food insecurity today mean for [children] in school? What does that mean for them to be able to concentrate and what does that mean down the road when they’re adults and we want them to be productive members of society,” said Saunders.

The Center is opening at the Connor Child Health Pavilion on Valley Street. It has been part of a significant investment by Dayton Children’s Hospital to keep children healthy and prevent, as much as possible, them from becoming patients.

Part of their initiatives include an afterschool program at Kiser Neighborhood Schools, Injury Prevention programs in targeted neighborhoods, and ‘equity action labs’ where community partners will engage to make change.

Montgomery County is listed as 78th for health outcomes out of Ohio’s 88 counties. And there are a number of other statistics and demographics showing ways in which the community and systems could be improved to help children live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

Researchers have been hired to be a part of the Center for Health Equity workforce. They will be engaging with the community to identify ways in which Dayton Children’s Hospital can better serve children and families.

“That’s the way that research happens,” said Cynthia Sieck, Director of Health Outcomes research. “You have your first question that you want to answer that leads you to more questions so its an ongoing process.”

For more information on the Center for Health Equity, click here.