Launching a new initiative can often feel like a daunting process, especially when the health and welfare of children is at stake. According to one children’s hospital leader, there’s a crucial mindset you should carry into building any program.
“Perfection is the enemy of progress,” says Michael Levas, M.D., M.S., assistant medical director of Project Ujima and associate professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “I've talked to many people starting programs who are paralyzed because they want to make it perfect right away, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Levas speaks from experience. He’s helped make Project Ujima, a program launched in 1996 to break the cycle of recurring violence among area youth, into a remarkable success story—it has affected the lives of thousands of young people since its inception. But it didn’t happen overnight.
“It's taken our program 20-plus years to get where we are, and every advancement we've made has been incremental,” Levas says.
The principle applies even in cases when securing funding for a new program seems like a non-starter. “Even if you only have the funding to start with a small project, perhaps you need to narrow down the focus,” Levas says. “That could be the seed that grows into something bigger.”
Levas adds that leaning on the experience of others can help get the ball rolling for a new project—he and his team have assisted numerous health care organizations in replicating Project Ujima’s component programs. The key is just taking that first step.
“You got to start somewhere; if you’re passionate about it, then you’ll push on and find the right partners and funders,” Levas says. “My advice is always: start somewhere, try something.”
Read more about Children’s Wisconsin’s multi-disciplinary approach to addressing the root causes of violence and reducing repeat victims.