Support Healthy Learners Allendale
Can you expect a child to learn when:
- his toothache is distracting?
- she is sick but her antibiotic is expensive?
- he can’t see what the teacher is writing on the board?
- classmates tease her because she has ringworm?
These are the questions that Healthy Learners (formerly called Health Reach) began asking 20 years ago. Since it’s founding, thousands of children have been provided with access to basic health care services — children that otherwise would have fallen through the cracks. Children in this program can receive free transportation to appointments, assistance with prescription medications, clinical counseling, and more.
Healthy Learners Allendale
Currently serving five regions in South Carolina, Healthy Learners launched its Allendale branch in 2005. In seven years, Healthy Learners Allendale (HLA) has provided almost 7000 services to 776 different children, including transporting those children 156,000 miles.
The number of children served and the number of services provided had been increasing each year, until two years ago.
A rocky economy and budget cuts have affected us all in the past few years, and HLA is no exception. Due to limited funding, the staff was forced to reduce their work week. The result? In the 2011-12 school year, the number of services provided (832) was just over half of what was provided two years earlier (1471) . The number of children (203) served was at the same level as that of five years earlier 206).
You may be wondering, “I thought we had Medicaid to cover these situations?” It’s important to understand that 31% of the children who received services in Allendale did not have Medicaid before being enrolled in HLA. And even with Medicaid, many children still encumbered with health situations that restrict them from learning and thriving.
It cost HLA $173,000 to provide 832 services in 2011-12. That is $208 per service. Does that seem like a lot? To me, it sure does.
But based on average cost of services, if these children went to the emergency room for treatment, the total pricetag would have been $1.1 million. That is, if the child would have gotten treatment at all. 82% of school nurses involved with Healthy Learners said that the children would not have received medical care without this program.
At a community meeting last month, representatives from Healthy Learners asked a group of Allendale leaders to raise $60,000 from within our own community.
Should We Support This?
I’ve been reading about and wrestling with how we define and solve poverty. So, when I was at this community meeting, I wondered if HLA, apparently under the category of relief, was meeting long-term goals of rehabilitation and development. And I wondered if this program was more about charity from outside, than participation and leadership from within our own community.
But then I heard local parents, leaders, and other community members share their hearts. I learned that 81% of parents said their child’s motivation increased as a result of care received through Healthy Learners.
I heard about the support from school officials, who know that physical well-being is a key component of academic achievement.
I heard about the strong relationships between parents and HLA staff.
I heard a plea from a single mom, “Because of Healthy Learners, my son has blossomed. I don’t know where we’d be without this program. I hope it’s here to say, so it can benefit other children.”
And I witnessed local politicians, school officials, and other residents who have already pledged their financial support.
Seeing and hearing, I wholeheartedly agree that we should support Healthy Learners Allendale. What a great way for families, schools, and the community to partner together so that our children can benefit.
To see a real-life story of the impact this program has, check out this video:
What Can You Do?
As I wrote in Poverty: An Imbalance of Opportunity, something just isn’t right when you can get antibiotics for free in the richest counties in the state, but have to pay for it in the most poverty-stricken areas. But you can help.
I want this blog community — my family, friends, and people I don’t even know — to support Healthy Learners Allendale. By the end of this month, I would like us to collectively donate $2000 to support children in Allendale, who desperately need this program. Let’s do this by September 30, 2012.
Will you be a part?
There are about 100 people who subscribe to and follow this blog. If everyone would make a one-time donation at least $5 or $10, and a few of us would step up to $20 or more, we can do this.
How To Support this Campaign
If you are “old school” and want to write a check, you can mail it to me, and I’ll add it to this campaign.
Spread the Word
Share either this blog post or the WePay – Healthy Learners Allendale 2012-13 page, on Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc. We can exceed our goal of $2000 by September 30 if you would help spread the word to others. Every bit counts.
Email me or leave a comment if you want more information.
I’m excited to see what happens over the next few weeks. (Update: We’ve raised about $1000 in less than 3 weeks!)