Amazing work being done at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in regards to meditation and mindfulness programs for students to decrease the amount of disciplinary action administrators take. Mental health is such an evolving topic in SBHC’s, as sites lean towards finding ways to address a more holistic approach to a child’s health. For more on mindfulness and meditation in schools refer to the Holistic Life Foundation.
Kids Vision First: Rales Center Vision Screening
School Based Health Center’s in Maryland are striving to meet the unmet health needs of its students. During the 2015-16 school year, one of Maryland’s newest SBHCs, the Rales Health Center, initiated a screening and vision program to address vision correction among its students. Many parents and teachers don’t realize the impact that vision problems have on a student’s ability to learn. According to the Essilor Vision Foundation, 25% of all school children in the US have a vision problem that is significant enough to affect their learning and 90% of children who require glasses do not have them.
To combat these statistics, the Rales Health Center teamed up with The Maryland Optometric Association and The Essilor Vision Foundation for the inaugural Kids Vision First event at KIPP Baltimore. The event took place on May 16-17, 2016 at KIPP Baltimore. One hundred and twenty-one students had the opportunity to see a volunteer Maryland Optometric Association optometrist. The optometrists identified 100 students who required classes. Each of these children received two pairs of glasses, at no cost. One pair of glasses to be kept at home and one at school, helping to keep students in class and ready to learn.
Prior to the Kid Vision First event, the Rales Health Center was able to hold a preliminary screening for KIPP students. One thousand students in third, fifth, and sixth grades were screened for vision problems by the Baltimore City Health Department. The students that required follow up from an optometrist or ophthalmologist participated in Kids Vision First.
Vision screenings for student in third, fifth, and sixth grade is critical because these students are in the gap years in which Maryland law does not require vision screenings through the school. The Maryland law requires that students in the Kindergarten, first, and eighth grade be screening leaving a seven year gap in which no screening is required. When in fact experts recommend a vision screening at the very least every other year. The Rales Center vision screening initiative took the time to close the seven year gap to address those students who may have transferred to the KIPP or may have a develop vision problem after their last screening.
Innovative models to address unmet health needs are continuing across Maryland SBHCs. Thank you to the Rales Center and its staff for its groundbreaking work!
Full Kids Vision First Results
New School Year and a Healthier Northwood High
As the new school year is upon us, schools across the state are making changes to become healthier environments for their students. At Northwood High School, as part of their Hallways to Health initiative, they have removed all the vending machines from the campus that were making high caloric, unhealthy snacks readily available to students. This is a huge success that reiterates to students the importance of healthy eating. Northwood’s student body is large and so diverse that being able to reach them at this population level is a huge success.
The Principal, Ms.Charley-Greene, has been a leader in health and wellness in Northwood High School. For the upcoming school year she has removed the candy, snack and soda vending machines from the halls. Students will be eating healthier lunches and after school snacks. — Kay Sophar, Northwood High SBHC Nurse Practitioner
In addition to the removal of the vending machines, Northwood’s SBHC is also working towards expanding a pilot breakfast program that they have had much success initiating during the 2015-16 school year. Northwood addressed absenteeism with a pilot in-class breakfast program through a partnership with Nourish Now. As a result of the pilot breakfast program during the 2015-16 school year, students had a recognizable increase in energy, they began to arrive earlier to class, and there was an improvement in their grades. Northwood’s SBHC is working on expanding the breakfast program to include additional classrooms and reach more students.
Way to go Northwood! Good luck for the 2016-17 school year!
If your SBHC has a success story they would like to share, please email Sapna Hencinski at [email protected]
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