I wish I could make songs play when you guys opened up each entry. For this one, I would have played “I Get By With A Little Help By My Friends” by the Beatles, though I like the Joe Cocker version a lot.
It’s obvious that getting this school-based health center (SBHC) established is not going to happen by our work alone. We need friends partners advocates. We need community leaders…we need the community. What makes a SBHC so unique and important as a means for delivering adolescent health services is that it is built around the needs of each specific community. One of our partners, and good friends says it best… “When you’ve seen one school-based health center, well, you’ve seen one school-based health center”.
Some have dentist offices, some don’t. Some have child nurse practitioners, some have family nurse practitioners. Some have psychiatrist, many have a nutritionist. But whatever staff and services are provided, are provided for a reason…that’s what the community needs.
One reason why it’s important to have friends in this process is because they can help us figure out what the primary needs of the community are. They can share historical data. They can share experience. But really why we want to bring these friends to the table is so that they can share in the ownership of this SBHC and the impact that it’s going to have on the community.
We have met with some really outstanding people at the Health Dept. in Wake County. People who are willing to help us on our journey. People who will have a stake in our projects success. People who will make a difference in the health of thousands of teenagers in our community.
This has led us to some really exciting places lately! Interestingly enough, once every 4 years, Wake County releases data compiled from a HUGE county-wide needs assessment. To disseminate this information, the county hosts multiple “community forums”. During these forums people facilitate discussions about what the data says and develop strategies and priorities for the next four years.
What is KEY about all of this is knowing that the priorities that come out of these forums go directly to the County Commissioners as recommendations for community health policies for the next four years. Meaning, if we can get people talking about this SBHC during these meetings, and understand that 9 out of 10 of the adolescent health issues that they are talking about can be positively impacted by establishing this center, the county commissioners will see that this is what the community needs, and more importantly, what the community WANTS.
The first forum was slightly productive and held in the heart of downtown Raleigh. We were able to get a feel for what the data said and what the discussions were like.
For the second forum, we were prepared and went in with a mission…Get People Talking About School-Based Health Centers.
Also, we didn’t register for this one, so it REALLY seemed like we were going in as rogue advocates!!! What do you mean my name tag isn’t legit???
At this meeting we were able to ask questions to the larger group about a center and, even more importantly, do some myth-busting:
Me: Have people out in this part of the county thought or talked about the impact that a school-based health center might have?
Facilitator: Welllll, yes, but there is a lot of fear around having contraceptives that close to students and on school-campus?
Me: But isn’t it true that it is a NC State Law that you cannot hand out contraceptives on the grounds of a school?
Facilitator: Wellll, yes.
Me: So that is really more of a myth.
Facilitator: Yes, that is a myth.
“Victory is won not in the miles but in the inches” - Louis L'Amour