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Ernesto Villasenor

Social Justice Fellow, LA County Education Foundation (LACEF)

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Addressing health disparities in inner city communities through the establishment and development of school-based health centers.

One of the surges that has been occurring in the past 25 years or so are the health disparities that disproportionately affect inner city communities, communities that are predominantly low-income and have large minority populations.

Many health issues that were not of great concern in the past 40 or 50 years are starting to become epidemics, health issues that include the following: overweight and obesity (especially childhood obesity), a health issue that can trigger many more illnesses within these communities); under-immunization or low immunization delivery within child and adolescent populations in the inner city, a health issue that can prevent many childhood and adolescent illnesses and deaths; asthma and respiratory illnesses, which can be complicated by overweight and obesity problems, environmental factors (that being another topic in itself), and the lack of proper health care accessibility.

A lot of these health problems are much higher than they should be for many reasons, and one of the reasons as to why it is higher in inner city communities is because of the following: the lack of adequate health care.

School-based Health Centers (SBHCs and SHCs), have been known to address a lot of health disparities within the inner city communities. Although they have been around for around 40-50 years, their effectiveness has been well documented through numerous fields within public health and education.

Health and education go hand in hand within the K-12 environment and setting, and although their correlation is poorly supported with little research, I believe that I can (as well as many of us) could find numerous information and develop studies to help find more information on such correlation, in addition to creating the awareness of an effective system in terms of addressing health disparities within the inner city communities.

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  • Sep 3 2012: This certainly seems to make sense, and I think it would work fine for most students.

    How about the privacy issue? I do not see how you could keep a student's visits to the health center private if the center is part of the school campus. For macho boys visiting the health center might be seen as a sign of weakness. For teenage girls, other students might assume that a girl is looking for birth control, rightly or wrongly.

    I don't think the privacy issue is a show stopper, but something would have to be done about it.
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      Sep 3 2012: That is a very good statement and issue to bring up, Barry.

      Within the research that I've done on SBHCs throughout the US, that was one of the overlapping issues that was seen in a lot of the SBHCs that were located in hot spots (geographical areas within a community where teen pregnancy, chronic illnesses, and lack of health care accessibility were higher than normal).

      Being the fact that the SBHCs are located within the school setting, privacy remains to be a less prevailing issue than it would be if the individuals were to go to a private family practice or a private clinic, for example, as confidentiality and parent authorization is needed (or an accompanying parent) to visit such places, unlike in SBHCs, where parents have to fill out paperwork and need not to be present in order for students to take advantage of the services offered.
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    Sep 3 2012: i share your impression that school-based health centers can be of great benefit to the students who use them.
  • Sep 5 2012: i think this is good
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    Sep 4 2012: Meditation has proven health benefits. An ongoing study in Iowa shows that those 45 and older - who meditate regularly - spent 87% less in medical bills than a control group, and over 60% less than society as a whole. (Can't remember the source, It may have come out of Maharishi University)

    Group meditation has proven to bring an end to violence and other social ills.

    School meditation programs are having an amazing impact on inner-city schools. Check out the David Lynch Foundation.

    Studies are suggesting that those in poverty are suffering from chronic stress.

    David Lynch and MU are pushing a specific for-profit type of meditation as an antidote to stress-based illnesses. They have trademarked their method and call it TM. It's nothing more than a mantra-based meditation. Any meaningless word will work - like ohm said silently. It can be instituted for free with just a single teacher training period.

    Because you are an educator, I encourage you to check out this link:
    http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/
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    Sep 3 2012: They have been and are a great benefit to the students who use them, but what if school board and city councils actually made an effort to introduce initiatives where SHC funding was properly allocated to sustain them? What if school boards created an initiative to introduce SHCs in all of the schools throughout their respective school district?