The evidence is overwhelming that factors such as race, class, displacement, and neighborhood culture have an impact on health and education outcomes. It is impossible to seek positive outcomes for youth without also seeking to address these disparities. School Health initiatives must be committed to closing the gap for all children to thrive. Applying an equity lens starts with embracing cultural humility and giving voice and empowerment to youth and families. This is the foundation that informs all planning and decision-making, from the individual to the core system.
We bring an equity lens to all our work and consciously shift the conversation to “all children.” We use data to identify opportunity gaps and apply that information to carefully target resources so that each child gets what they need to be successful.
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How it works
Pay close attention to how factors, such as neighborhood conditions, race, income, language, and immigration status affect opportunity; and develop targeted strategies to respond to inequities in culturally relevant ways. This starts with elevating the voices and experiences of young people, as they must be at the heart of planning for any sustainable change. Commit to helping young people overcome barriers and obstacles in their lives by finding ways to foster their personal growth and helping them become leaders for change in their communities.
Latino Men and Boys Program
Reclaiming identity, culture, and family through education, health, and community action.
In 2011, CHSC began investing in the Unity Council’s Latino Men and Boys Program (LMB), which is a school-based, culturally rooted program located in nine schools in the Oakland Unified School District. The LMB program works with young men (ages 12-20) and their families to improve outcomes in health, education, behavior, family interaction, and career planning. LMB works in direct collaboration with our school-based health centers, using culturally responsive approaches and positive male role models. Key to the program’s success is the use of a “healing informed approach” focused on helping boys and young men overcome the personal and community trauma related to the social conditions in which they live.
Alameda County Caminos Program
Alameda County has the second highest percentage of unaccompanied immigrant youth in California (after Los Angeles County); and this number continues to rise. These young people, most often from Central America, have made the dangerous journey across borders to flee extreme violence in their home countries where gang violence is prevalent. Boys as young as six years old are routinely targeted to join gangs or risk being killed. Young girls are targeted for sexual abuse or exploitation. Many unaccompanied immigrant youth have witnessed threats or murder of a loved one. These youth make up a unique, vulnerable population, with distinct health and mental well-being challenges.
In 2013, in response to the increase in their numbers, we worked with our partner La Familia to create the Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth Care team. This team works directly with our school-based, school-linked programs to provide case management, clinical, recreational, and basic supports to these youth. We also increased outreach and support through our district-level coordination efforts, through school health centers, and through other health and wellness providers working in schools.
While we are relying on the robustness of our existing school-based, school-linked programs to serve as many of these youth as possible, we recognize that not all of them are attending school. We are, therefore, actively linking with other organizations outside the school system to expand our reach to unaccompanied immigrant youth in the community.
Jasmine Gonzalez, Caminos Program Coordinator