In a Florida county known for family fun, ironically nearly 23 percent of the resident children under the age of 18 are living in poverty – a number that has increased steadily over the last five years.
With a psychologist, nurse practitioner, case manager and nutritionist from Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children on board, Dr. Chulani and the 40-foot mobile medical clinic known as the Teen Xpress visits schools in Orange county to bring free medical care, health education and mentoring to uninsured and underinsured youth – many of whom might otherwise go without treatment.
STAYING IN SCHOOL
The Teen Xpress program partners with the Orange County School System to address the needs of students in middle and high school with the highest rates of poverty and academic underachievement and provides teens with the solutions they need to tackle these challenges head-on. And it is working. Research studies have shown that when students have access to school-based health centers and resources, like the Teen Xpress, absenteeism and tardiness rates drop. By providing health care services like managing asthma, reducing the risk of diabetes diabetes and helping teens avoid pregnancies that can derail their education, the program team is keeping kids healthy and ready to learn.
A VITAL CONNECTION FOR TEENS
“Adolescence is a pivotal, critical time in a child’s development. Many physical and emotional changes and challenges occur,” said Dr. Chulani. “As the only school and health program dedicated to serving teens in the local area, we are not only providing free medical and mental health care, but connecting students with the resources they need to stay healthy.”
Teen Xpress was recognized nationally by the American Academy of Pediatrics-Adolescent Health Partnership Project’s 2010 Promising Practices Award for its commitment to positive youth development and its strength-based approach to adolescent health promotion.