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Health foundations join forces to improve California schools

The California Education Supports project, a new joint venture between three nonprofit foundations, held its first forum Tuesday to address the effects of mental and physical health on California students. Nearly 100 community leaders, students, health and education professionals piled into a Manual Arts High School classroom to talk about those issues.  

The California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which are funding the $700,000 effort,  plan to release policy papers and hold hearings in the next 12 to 24 months on a range of potential issues from childhood obesity to reproductive health.

The project is part of a broader effort to integrate student healthcare with educational goals, said Cecilia Echeverria of the California Endowment.

Manual Arts has an on-site health clinic, operated by St. John's Well Child and Family Center, which provides services to students, their families and the surrounding community. But some said the school should continue to focus on reducing violence.

"It makes people think about priorities a bit differently: 'How can we worry so much about vending machines when there are lockdowns on campus?'" said Linh Huynh with MLA Partner Schools, which helps manage Manual Arts. Huynh added that measures like school uniforms have significantly improved campus safety.

Erin Gabel, legislative director for state Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), called Manual Arts High  “a great example of vision around student health services, but not necessarily a model of acting on that vision,” she said. “They’re demonstrating how difficult the steps are and how great the opportunities are.”

Torlakson, who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Schools and Community, had planned the gathering as a legislative hearing, Gabel said, but the Assembly members slated to attend were called back to Sacramento to work on the water policy bill.

The event attracted health and education professionals from outside Los Angeles. Miguel Villarreal, food and nutritional services director for the Novato Unified School District in Marin County, raised the importance of providing students with inexpensive but healthy meals during a relatively short lunch break. “We want to see where they’re going and how we can leverage their work in our field — and make sure we’re included" [in the policy discussion], he said.

Camille Levee, executive director of Glendale Healthy Kids, came to see how the experts were planning to integrate dental, mental and physical care into public education. “We provide a connection between students and healthcare services, and we do case management,” she said. Levee said she came to see if any of the panelists were proposing a similar model.

--Amina Khan

Comments () | Archives (13)

This blog says to me there are a lot of well meaning people getting sucked into the status quo. Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch) is the champion of the public employee unions: prison guard unions, teacher unions, bureacrat union, etc. It is surprising that presumably sophisticated foundations would get involved in such actions. The children of this state have suffered from the status quo for too long. Vote for Gloria Romero (D) East Los Angeles. She is ready to clean house!

Terrific initiative for children's health. Thanks to Assemblyman Torlakson who has done more for students in California than most legislators. He needs to be our next Superintendent of Public Instruction.

School + Health = Successful Students! It just makes total sense to put health care where kids are -- in school! Thanks Torlakson, TCE, James Irvine, and Hewlett for supporting school-based health care.

There are currently 153 school health centers across the state, and many more schools in the process of starting new centers. In 2006 the Governor announced his interest in expanding this number to 500. We are very pleased to see that the legislature and several major foundations are championing an effort to make school health services available to more children, youth and families.

Remember green soap? In California, from the 1950s forward, there was a healthcare center in every school.

For those of us without healthy or supportive families, it wasn't just the green soap when the play took a rough turn. Or when mononucleosis hit. The school's healthcare office was a refuge and a healing place.

Many of us learned important life skills in school. I support integrating healthy thinking, living and learning into school-based healthcare. It's good for learning, and that's good for civic participation and economic performance. And as we learned this week, it's also good for military readiness.

I don't trust these foundations. It's a back door political game. Being "non-profit" does not make you non-partisan. I have serious doubts they care at all about students or education.

I am currently a high school students.In my school based health center, I was in a program called Teen Pregancy Prevention, and this program gave the the new up coming freshman the awareness that there is a clinic in campus and informed the student that they can also obtain free services as well. The progam objective was to basically decreases the pregancy rates and through this program I got involved in anoter program called Adolecent Health care communcation program, which was to improve the relationship the doctors have with their adolecent patients, and throught this program we gave classroom presention informing students about their rights, because many students are not familiar with confidentiality and due to the lack of awareness many students are not going to the clinic for services because of that fear.Unfortunately due to the budget cuts these programs are no longer in the clinc. The clinic help me out in soo many way but most importanlly it helped me to speak up, fight for my rights and helped me realized although i'm stil a youth my voice can make a diffrence.

As an alumni from Manual Arts High School, I was really excited that The California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett decided to held their forum at my old high school. I graduated a last year and as a peer educator of the on-site clinic's heath education programs, I know the benefits of having school base heath centers in schools. Students become proactive about their health decisions when they have the resources on campus.

Graduating from John Marshall High, one of the 153 schools in California with a school based health center, this is such an amazing initiative that the California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation are doing. During this time in history where health care services are gaining its momentum, it's only right that we push forward this opportunity to spread awareness not only in California but in the entire nation that investing in the health of students, especially high school students, will benefit our future leaders in the long run.

I attended Manual Arts High School and had the pleasure to work as a peer health educator at the School Based Health Center. Since 2004, my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to work with two outstanding Health Educators who provided me the opportunity to tackle two important health issues that are prevalent in South Los Angeles; unwanted teen pregnancies and obesity. Not only did I get a chance to educate youth on important health issues but the health center also allowed me to become a statewide advocate for school based health services through its partnerships with the California Center and the California School Health Centers Association. Children and Adolescents lack access to health care and SBHCs do a great job in providing needed health services. SBHCs at MAHS has helped South Los Angeles take another step towards a healthier community. All peer educators who have worked or volunteered at the health center have 1. continued onto higher education 2. seek a career in health/public service 3. continue to mentor Manual Arts high school students 4. are passionate about changing South Los Angeles for the better.

School Based Health Centers improve the lives of many students. My life was deeply impacted by the health center at my Los Angeles high school, John Marshall High. It offers FREE comprehensive resources and services such as immunizations, physicals, nutrition counseling, vision services, etc. Without my health center, I do not think i would have been able to be a healthy student in high school and now college. It is imperative that every school has a health center of their own because it improves the attendance and wellbeing of students. As a consumer and advocate for SBHCs, I want to say Thank you to all who are supportive of SBHCs.

I graduated from one of the many high schools that did not have a school center. I, as well as some of my other peers, realized how important it was to have one in campus to raise more awareness and services to those who needed it. We then decided that we were going to work to get these services in campus. Thanks to the support we had, Riverbank High School is slowly getting more of these services that are helping the students around the community. I have seen how this had made an impact in this community ever since this started happening. Thanks to all of those who are in support of these services, school based health centers, and are allowing these things to happen!

As a student, I understand the importance of a School Based Health Center and the role that they can provide. In my high school, I was lucky enough to just have a School Based Health Center that provided comprehensive health services. Utilizing their services enabled me to improved in my high school performance. It is hard for me imagine what my life would be like without a School Based Health Center. They play a vital role in providing a student with a healthy work environment. I deeply appreciated all the comprehensive services that they provided for me and also to the community that they served. I am a strong advocate for School Based Health Centers and the continued growth of them is the continued growth of healthy school environments.


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