Every family needs a leader, someone who can take charge when things get rough. Sometimes we find those leaders in very young children.
Victor is only twelve-years-old but you might never guess that by his actions. Victor is the spokesperson for his family, helping his mom and little sister navigate through life in a new country where they have found themselves receiving services from a homeless program and now Young & Healthy.
Once Victor’s little sister’s severe dental pain was treated by three different volunteer dentists, his own health needs could be addressed. Victor has relentless headaches and is now being treated by a volunteer neurologist. No reason has yet been discovered for these headaches, but the Young & Healthy volunteer doctor continues to search for answers and treat him with such kindness.
Young & Healthy has embraced Victor and his family with appointments, transportation and case management services, but imagine the stress that this young family leader must be under. Perhaps his stress is the genesis of the headaches, which would not be surprising. Thanks to every advocate, every program and every volunteer doctor involved, Victor and his family continue to receive the support and care that they need.
Collaboration Leads to Positive Results for Kids
Melanie is a particularly bright young lady, especially in math. It wasn’t a big surprise that she was invited to participate in an accelerated math program at her school. The staff and volunteers at school knew that Melanie faced some challenges at home. She had no access to the internet or a telephone. However, in spite of those obstacles to learning, Melanie was thriving—a least for a while.
Little by little, several adults around her noticed that Melanie was not keeping up and seemed to struggle more and more with her school work. An alert teacher noticed that she was squinting a lot. Thinking it might be a vision issue, Melanie was referred to the school nurse. The nurse checked Melanie’s vision and also the vision of her siblings. All of the children had vision issues that warranted a call to Young & Healthy. A consultation with an optometrist promptly indicated that all three children were in need of glasses.
With the help of teachers, Young & Healthy and volunteer eye doctors working together, we can positively change the future for our community kids!
This Backpack Holds More Than Books
Young & Healthy’s newest work is in Trauma Informed Care. We are committed to bringing this knowledge to our partners in the school district. Young & Healthy is spending considerable time teaching our community about the effects of trauma on brain development, behavior and long term health. Nothing feels better than seeing knowledge turn into PRACTICE.
A local middle school teacher had a classroom that required the children to keep their backpacks on the floor in the back of the classroom. One student, Julian refused. No matter how many times the teacher requested he move his backpack, Julian vehemently refused. Frustrated, the teacher sought advice from the principal, who suggested they might use a “trauma informed” approach to understand this student’s behavior. There was gentle questioning about why Julian was being defiant. It turns out, the rule about keeping backpacks in the back of the room had been the case in another classroom as well. It was there that a precious football had been stolen. This football, had been given to Julian by his father just before he died.
What appeared to be an act of defiance was really an act of self-preservation. Giving teachers and principals the tools to look at children’s behavior with a new lens can promote kindness and trust. Instead of being punished, Julian was met with compassion and tenderness. Isn’t that a better environment for children to learn?
So what is “Advocacy” anyway?
Advocacy can mean 100 different things to as many people, but at Young & Healthy it always takes on a very practical meaning.
Jason, age 24 (an age that some might consider “young and invincible”), learned he was young but not invincible. Stage three leukemia has a way of dismissing such a notion very quickly.
In addition to the fears associated with cancer, Jason’s medication costs were $860.00 per week! So, what do you do when your finances just do not allow you to expend that kind of money? Answer: You do nothing, including taking your like saving medication.
Luckily, a social worker at Huntington Hospital referred Jason to Young & Healthy. Our insurance advocate uncovered “every rock” until he found an insurance plan that could better align with Jason’s needs. Now, Jason has an insurance plan with $100.00 premiums and a $5.00 prescription plan, which is much more affordable.
Perhaps our insurance ADVOCATE gave Jason another shot at feeling invincible!
What Goes Around, Comes Around…But in a Good Way
Several years ago at our Mobile Dental Clinic, we met a young USC dental student named Kimberly. Kimberly was a shining star among the dental students who worked at the clinic. Fast forward several years and Dr. Kimberly Kum is now a part of the USC Dental School faculty and supervises the dental students at our clinic! Better yet, when she set up shop for her own dental practice, she eagerly became a volunteer dentist for Young & Healthy. Dr. Kum treats two Young & Healthy kids per month for us.
Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are planting the seeds of volunteerism. We are so lucky to have Dr. Kum as a part of our team!