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First Coast Connect

10/5/2016: Amendment 1; Year Up Jacksonville; Physical Therapy; African American HIV

Amendment 1 on Florida’s November ballot has garnered emotional debate on both sides. To discuss the issue by phone Wednesday, Screven Watson, board member of Consumers for Smart Solar, supports the amendment and Stephen Smith from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy opposes it. We also spoke with Richard Naylor, external relations manager; Robin Tanya Watson, executive director; and recent graduate Asia Howard about the Year Up Jacksonville program. Host Melissa Ross also spoke with physical therapist Laura BunsoBittencourt about the use of physical therapy instead of medication to ease pain and Rev. William Francis about getting more local faith leaders to use their positions to help the high number of African Americans in Jacksonville who are HIV positive.  


Amendment 1

Supporters of Amendment 1, known as the Florida Solar Amendment, say it would allow residents to install solar panels on their homes while protecting consumers from fraud, but opponents say the amendment is deceptive and is nothing more than a power grab by the state’s utilities.

Smith and Watson debated the issue, both claiming facts are being twisted by their opponents.         

Year Up Jacksonville

It’s called Year Up and it’s the nation’s fastest growing youth development program serving young adults ages 18-24.

Year Up is a one-year program that provides low-income young adults with hands-on skill development, college credits, corporate internships and support.  

Last year, Year Up expanded into Jacksonville in partnership with Florida State College at Jacksonville.  Naylor, Watson and Howard spoke about the benefits of the program and how it can help young adults in Jacksonville.

Physical therapy

This year the American Physical Therapy Association is focusing on tackling the United States’ opioid epidemic by educating Americans on the benefits of physical therapy during October, which is National Physical Therapy Month.

We’ve been looking at the impact of the opioid epidemic and the many groups and companies who are trying to get help to people who’ve been affected as part of WJCT’s ongoing Community Thread discussion on radio, TV and social media.

Bittencourt, the president of Smart Body PT told Ross about the benefits of using physical therapy instead of pills to ease pain in patients.      


African American HIV

Approximately 64 percent of people living with an HIV diagnosis in Jacksonville are African American, underscoring the immediate need for local faith leaders to take action.

Due to the path of Hurricane Matthew, an HIV training session in Jacksonville that was scheduled for Thursday has been postponed.

But we still spoke with Rev. William Francis, an initiative ambassador with The Social Justice Imperative Initiative who was to lead the session about the high HIV rate in Jacksonville’s African American community and how faith leaders can help the victims.      

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.