Samantha (10) and Airianna (14) are two students from Lakeview Adolescent Health Center in Battle Creek, Michigan. SCHA-MI Communications Consultant Kevin Lignell interviewed them and their provider, Samantha Gonzalez, about how their School-Based Health Centers improve their lives.
Kevin Lignell: When did you start using your School-Based Health Center?
Airianna: In 6th grade, they opened. (I used it) when I didn’t feel good or when I needed to use mental health (services). For a little time they didn’t really have a doctor at the time. It’s like a doctor’s office so it’s really cool. We had a nurse and she had her own little office, before the health center was created. (SBHCs) can provide more than medicines; they can take more than one person at a time. I think it is just better than one person in an office that can’t do that much for you.
Samantha Gonzalez: This year, (Airianna) came to the Youth Advisory Council because she was involved in other groups. Some I recruited because I knew them, some I recruited from teachers.
Kevin Lignell: What do you do for the Youth Advisory Council?
Airianna: What we really do is like we help take a stand against bullying. We talk about it over announcements, we do things where kids can come down and they put a handprint down on our windows. We give them bracelets that says I will lend a hand and take a stand. We talk about suicidal and how people judge people.
Samantha Gonzalez: The first year when we first met, we listed a ton of health projects and we voted on the ones that (the students) voted on. First, it was suicide harm and the next one was bullying.
Kevin Lignell: How has the Youth Advisory Council made an impact on students’ lives?
Samantha (student): We are still new in the school. The YAC has spread of awareness of the health center. I have seen some bullying decrease in the summer. If I see any bullying in the school, I tell them it’s not the right thing to do. I try to help the person so they don’t just sit there and get bullied.
Samantha Gonzalez: So far, 125 students come down and given a pledge not to bully.
Kevin Lignell: Do you think the YAC gives students courage to stand up to things like bullying?
Airianna: Yes, it gives them courage. The people that joined YAC know that bullying is not OK and to take a stand against things that aren’t OK.
Samantha Gonzalez: Every kid that is there wants to make a difference and talk about issues. They have that personality.
Samantha (student): Everyone that is chosen (for the YAC) knows what is bad and what we want to take against.
Kevin Lignell: What would happen if your school-based health enter didn’t exist anymore?
Airianna: It would be a big problem.
Samantha (student): I would be sad. There are lots of people there you can to talk to about your problems, so I would be sad.
Samantha Gonzalez: I think one of the barriers we overcome is transportation. Kids would not make it to doctor or therapy appointments if we weren’t here.
Airianna: Instead of using the health center – you don’t have to use the hospital or something – it’s right here at your school. My sister has come in for vaccinations.
Kevin Lignell: What would you say to your legislators to convince them to support your school-based health center?
Samantha (Student): What I would say – It helps many kids and many people who don’t have access to transportation or busses. It helps teachers, students – everybody pretty much.
Samantha Gonzalez: Our center is preventative – we are keeping kids in school. They can see the doctor here. They can deal with mental health issues.
Airianna: (Students) can do their work at the same time and the health center could help them feel better so they don’t have to go home, and don’t miss work or tests or have to leave school.
The Lakeview Adolescent Health Center offers services which include: treating minor health problems and injuries; vision and hearing screening; monitor chronic illnesses; conduct sports, camp, and school physicals; assist with mental health issues; provide immunizations; provide health education; weight management counseling; diagnose and treat STI’s; HIV testing and counseling; pregnancy testing; information about Medicaid; assist with application process for MIChild/HealthyKids. You can learn more at their website.