Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Teens spread the word about school health clinics

Little Village/Lawndale High School opened its health clinic last fall, to much fanfare. Getting there was quite a job and took many partners, from CITGO to Alivio Medical Center to the Little Village Community Development Corporation.

One of the side benefits of the organizing last year to prepare for the clinic is that LVCDC organizer Christina Bronsing got to know two Little Village/Lawndale students who wanted to learn more about health and make a difference. Lupe Alvarez and Eric Cerda both joined the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers' Youth Advisory Board and lobbied in Springfield last year for more money to support clinics like theirs.

"My dad has diabetes. ... I started getting interested in health problems," Lupe told me. She wants to become a nurse and has learned more about health conditions from serving on the youth board. Through their activities, "we were able to discuss what we really thought with adults."

Eric joined the youth board to grow as a leader. "If I helped people learn more about the health center, it would probably be good experience for me. It would be a good way to showcase my leadership skills," he said. So far, his strategy has worked out just as he planned--he introduced the clinic to hundreds of people at its grand opening in October.

Both Eric and Lupe are also getting a chance to hone their media skills. They're part of a youth team developing a call-in show for CAN-TV that will teach more teens how they can get a school-based health center in their neighborhood. The show will air on CAN-TV Channel 21 on February 26 at 3:30 p.m. The call-in number is 312-738-1060.

For more on how the Little Village/Lawndale school health clinic is being received by students and teachers, see this story on the New Communities Program web site.

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