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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: May 9, 2012

Do too many kids lack access to health care in Wake County? Some Wake County students say "yes," and they're organizing a rally May 19, in Raleigh, to promote one way they see the problem could be eased.

They're working to help establish a school-based health center (SBHC) near a public school in Wake County, where more than 16,800 residents under 19 years of age lack health insurance, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The free Hands on School Health Rally will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. May 19 at the Wake County Commons Building at 4011 Carya Drive, in Raleigh, and will feature three hour-long trainings on advocacy and a spoken word performance by the North Carolina-based Sacrificial Poets. Youth who take part can receive community service hours.   Adults are also welcome to attend. To learn more about obtaining community service hours and to register, visit sbhcrally.eventbrite.com.

The students organizing the rally are with Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), a statewide nonprofit whose mission is to empower students, in partnership with adults, to create community change. For the past two years, the YES! team has researched the health care issue in Wake County, eventually landing on the idea of a school-based health center to improve access for students. Nearly 2,000 school-based student health centers operate nationwide, providing medical and mental health care on school grounds. Although available to serve all students, they primarily care for underserved youth. North Carolina has a strong network of 50 school-based or school-linked health centers, but none exists in Wake County.

Federal funding of up to $500,000 exists for such a center through the Affordable Care Act, which allocates money to school-based health centers to be safety net providers. The students also hope to bring together strategic partners in Wake County's health care community to pitch in with funding.

The YES! team is now working on a proposal for the Wake County Board of Education and hopes that the rally will demonstrate community-wide support for a school-based health center. They've gathered more than 2,000 petition signatures in support of the center and about 500 postcards, which will be mailed to Wake County school board members. On the postcards, Wake County parents and students shared ways they believe a school-based health center would help them and their families.

Visit Wake Students Build Support for a School Based Health Center to discover why students think a center will help them and their families.



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