Friday, July 18, 2008
"If medical researchers were to discover an elixir that could increase life expectancy, reduce the burden of illness, delay the consequences of aging, decrease risky health behavior, and shrink disparities in health, we would celebrate such a remarkable discovery. Robust epidemiological evidence suggests that education is such an elixir. Yet, health professionals rarely identified improving school graduation rates as a major public health objective, nor have they systematically examined their role in achieving this objective."
This is a quote from an article by Nicholas Freudenberg and Jessica Ruglis which is posted at http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2007/oct/07_0063.htm . I wrote about this in a previous blog article here and here.
If there is such a benefit, how can we encourage hospitals and teaching universities around the Chicago area to set up leadership and learning circles, with a goal of building youth development, tutoring and/or mentoring programs in the area around each hospital, and throughout the region?
This Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) map shows locations of hospitals in the Chicago region. If you search the T/MC zip code map for the area around each hospital, you can learn what, if any, organizations are offering volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring within one or two miles of each hospital. You can also use this interactive map.
As schools gets ready to start in August, we encourage each hospital to invite leaders of local tutor/mentor programs, area businesses and faith groups, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, to meet and discuss ways the hospital and the university can become an intermediary to help bring volunteers and donors to the existing tutor/mentor programs, or help new programs form where they are needed.
We created a strategic plan for hospital leadership, and encourage hospitals to use this as a starting point in developing their own tutor/mentor program support strategy, as part of their drop out prevention and workforce development goals, not just as a random act of kindness.
We've also created an information library, with links to web sites that show what other hospitals and health centers are doing, and with links to articles that help learners better understand the drop out and education issues that affect the operating budgets of inner city hospitals.
This does not need to be a collaboration where everyone marches together. There are dozens of hospitals on this map. Each one can take the lead, in its own part of the city, to develop strategies that help kids make healthier decisions, and which have a positive impact on the hospitals at the same time.