The Californai Endowment
by: George Chacon

The California School Health Centers Association had their annual statewide conference, “Vision & Voice for Healthy Students” in Long Beach, California on March 14-15. As the title states, it was all about the youth.

The main day of the conference, the 15th, started off with a special young speaker, Bertrand Perdomo, who, at age 24, is a California Democratic Party Delegate and a program manager of outreach for USC. All of that wouldn’t have happened, he stated, if it weren’t for a coordinator at the school-based health center in Manual Arts High School providing him with leadership opportunities.

Later on, The California Endowment’s President & CEO Robert K. Ross, M.D. made an impassioned speech about the type of services that school-based health centers (SBHCs) provide to youth in the hardest hit places in California. He also stated that mental health and trauma informed care should be a priority for the nation.

If we want to be serious about reaching health equity for all the youth in California, school-based health centers have to be part of the equation. SBHCs are places where students can receive needed immunizations and check-ups, where they can have a safe space to receive mental health services, and where they can build a community to work on their leadership skills.

Providing such services and opportunities to youth in underserved communities is essential to address the inequities many of them face. If we want more youth to be healthy and to be leaders in the community like Bertrand, then we should support school based health centers to our fullest.