Not surprisingly, young people from some of the East Bay’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods are less likely to have access to good medical care, let alone the chance of a health care career. These kids, many who live in ethnically diverse neighborhoods with some of the nation’s highest rates of homicide, gang activity, school failure, violent crime and poverty. And the most vulnerable are those of middle school age.
For whatever reason, these children aren’t getting their share of academic and life skills support. The opportunity for academic stability that can pave the way to a rewarding career is sadly elusive. Alameda Health System operates a career program of long standing that provides concrete results. Supporting it rewards donors with the satisfaction of helping kids prepare for a lifetime of success.
Program Timed to Reach Kids at a Crucial Life Stage
HEAL (Health Excellence Academic Leadership) Program – prepares participants for health-related professions while closing the gap in academic and life skills resources. Enrichment opportunities include classroom training, hands-on clinical experience, mentoring, life coaching and financial assistance in the form of paid internships. Encouraging family support is an important component of the program.
Created in 1991 as the Model Neighborhood Program through a partnership between AHS and county government, HEAL’s work starts with 14-year-olds and reaches up to 24-year-olds. Current areas of focus are after-school tutoring and life skills training, plus wellness classes that include family members and focus on nutrition. Among those helping the newer kids are college students who have been involved in HEAL or similar programs. Students must maintain acceptable grades to continue in the program.
Cultivating Fertile Career Prospects at a Young Age
HEAL students emerge with a career plan and goals, up-to-date health workplace skills and a network of health care professionals. They grow in self-confidence, and develop the interpersonal skills they’ll need for success. They also gain access to HEAL’s partnerships with community-based organizations that can further enhance their career opportunities, skills and knowledge.
Each year, the program helps more than 150 students ranging from eighth grade through college and representing 15 East Bay schools. Since its inception, HEAL has provided more than 1,000 paid internships and served more than 6,000 young people. Many have gone on to graduate college and a number are pursuing health careers right here in their own community.