A century ago...
the eyes of the world were turned to St. Louis for the splendor and glory of the 1904 World’s Fair. Celebrating the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, the exposition launched brilliant innovations such as the world’s first neonatal incubator, displayed proudly at the former Deaconess Hospital near Forest Park.
Hope and promise were everywhere, and in myriad ways those hopes and promises have borne great fruit. Feared childhood diseases such as scarlet fever, smallpox, and polio have been eradicated. Children, who in 1904 had a life expectancy of just over 48 years, now are born with a life expectancy of over 78 years.
Fast forward to today. St. Louis is again a city of splendor and glory in many important ways. From the Mississippi to the farthest corner of the region, St. Louis is home to world class art, education and sports. It boasts some of the world’s top hospitals and thousands of outstanding physicians and health researchers.
Yet, just as the cloud of feared diseases loomed over the children of 1904, within the shadow of the Gateway Arch many of the children in St. Louis today face serious threats to their health and well-being:
- In some neighborhoods, over 40 percent of the children have acquired lead poisoning.
- Over three times as many children under 18 suffer from asthma in certain areas of St. Louis (up to 20 percent) as compared to the national average of 6.3 percent.
- In some parts of the region, over 98 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced lunches because of extreme poverty. The St. Louis and metro East area is home to nearly 500 food pantries.
- The national rate for child abuse and neglect is 12.4 per 1000 children. In this region, probable cause for investigation is found in more than 45 of every 1000 children.
Deaconess Foundation, with a faith heritage reaching back over one hundred years, is committed to the same dramatic changes for children that were brought about over the last century.
Just as the Gateway Arch symbolizes the hope of pioneers who were traveling west, the Deaconess Foundation stands for a new vision of community wellness. Join us as we journey together to renew this region as a place of promise and hope for all the children.