Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Heights MetroHealth Youth Council Visits Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Nov. 22, 2023 -- For organizations to be successful, they have to listen directly to the people they serve. For the school district’s MetroHealth program, that means listening to students.

A Youth Advisory Council was formed last year, run by MetroHealth staff and funded with a grant from Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry. Instituting a Youth Advisory Council is “the gold standard for school-based health centers,” said nurse Kelly Blevins. “We think we know what kids wants and need, but they know best. This gives them a voice.”

Made up of fifteen 10th through 12th graders, Heights High’s YAC meets monthly, usually over lunch. The students are able to share their perspectives on Metro’s current offerings, brainstorm ways to encourages students to use Metro’s services, and hone their leadership skills. Because the funding comes through No Kid Hungry, a main goal for the Council is to alleviate food insecurities.

They recently took a field trip to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and Coit Farm, to learn about the resources available for hungry families in the Cleveland area. They were shocked at how widespread the problem of hunger is in Cleveland and how close they live to a food desert. “Within just three miles, there’s a community without a grocery store that sells fresh produce,” said Ms. Blevins.

Not only were students motivated to begin brainstorming solutions, the experience also removed some of the shame they may have around seeking food assistance themselves. “There was definitely a sense of ‘Oh, I’m not the only one experiencing this.’” The YAC will receive $1,000 from No Kid Hungry for a project to address food insecurity in their own community.

The students also provide valuable feedback to Metro’s school-based team, which includes Community Health Worker Alvernese Ford, other medical professionals and staff, and doctors including Heights alum Vanessa Maier. So far, “the Advisory Council is impressed with all the services we offer,” said Ms. Blevins, though they have suggested adding dental and vision care.

Metro’s clinic is located on the ground floor of Heights High and offers a wide range of health care to students from every school in the district and their families. More information, including services, times, and a one-time parental consent form, can be found here.

Two exciting new additions to Metro’s services are telehealth and prescription delivery. Students can now be seen by a doctor via video conference, with a nurse on hand to facilitate the appointment. This means that students are less likely to miss school and parents are less likely to miss work for something as routine as a possible ear infection.

Students and families can also have prescriptions filled and delivered to their house on the very same day as long as they’re submitted before 3pm. This “breaks down that transportation and time barrier,” said Ms. Blevins. Metro staff can also help find alternatives to high-cost prescriptions.

Countless studies have shown that students learn better when they’re fed and healthy. Heights High is making sure that can happen right inside our building.

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