Students Advocate for School Based Health Centers
Nearly 500 students, parents, health care practitioners, educators, and advocates gathered at the State Capital Building in Albany to raise awareness of the impact School Based Health Centers (SBHC’s) have on communities across New York State. Five students from the Syracuse City School District’s Westside Academy at Blodgett participated in the “Student Speakout” and listened to speeches from legislators and others who have been instrumental in bringing comprehensive health services to students on-site at schools.
Governor Andrew Cuomo received the Champion of Children’s Health Award. The Education Advocate of the Year went to Robert Mackey, Superintendent of Unadilla Valley School District in New Berlin.
After the “Speakout” the students went with staff from the SCSD Health Services Office and Syracuse Community Health Center to visit with the local NYS Legislators to talk about how their new school-based health center will impact their community. They spoke with Senator David Valesky, Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, Assemblyman Sam Roberts, and a representative from Senator DeFrancisco’s office. The students shared stories about why the center was important to them and to other students attending Westside Academy.
SBHC’s provide access to primary medical care, dental services, mental health services, preventive care, and youth development to nearly 2 million students across the State. In the SCSD there are six SBHC’s at the following schools: Dr. King, Dr. Weeks, Delaware, Fowler, HW Smith, and Westside Academy at Blodgett. There are three additional sites in development at Franklin, Danforth, and Nottingham Schools.
Services are available at no cost to families and include:
- Complete physical checkups
- Lab tests when necessary to detect illness, infection, or health condition
- Hearing, vision, scoliosis, and blood pressure screening
- First aid, assessment and treatment of acute illness
- Prescriptions when necessary
- Care for the child who is ill
- Nutrition and weight counseling
- Counseling for school and personal problems
- Health education and counseling
- Referrals to outside agencies (for example, hospital, health specialist, dentist) for services not provided at the School Based Health Center
- Risk reduction counseling
- Dental Services
- Mental Health Services
The students at Westside Academy did a great job of representing their school and the District. They eloquently shared the benefits of having a SBHC to provide comprehensive health services themselves and their peers.