The Bayview Hunter’s Point 15-year-old didn’t know the half of it. She had come to the Bayview Hunter’s Point Healing Arts Center to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, only learn she was four months pregnant.
At the Center, staff located physicians she had seen in the past and learned she had multiple health problems that would make hers a high-risk pregnancy. By day’s end, after counseling, the staff arranged for the girl to be seen at a county hospital and plugged into its prenatal care program.
The success story is one of many starting to emerge from the new facility, one of two health centers for youth recently to receive grants for general operating expenses from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The foundation recently announced it has awarded $260,000 to support the Bayview Hunters Point Healing Arts Center, and $400,000 for the Daly City Youth Health Center, both of which provide comprehensive health services to youth.
Dr. Mitch Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said the Healing Arts Center’s work with teenagers is a central to his department’s goals.
“Improving the health and well being of the youth in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point community is a priority of the Department of Public Health,” Katz said. “The Healing Arts Center’s unique health and youth development programs continue to strengthen this effort by bringing valuable services closer to these youth, improving their day-to-day lives.”
The Healing Arts Center, which opened its doors in June 2005, was product of a year-long review by community activists in Bayview Hunters Point, who worked with pediatric residents from the medical school at the University of California at San Francisco to learn the health needs of the neighborhood’s teens.
The Center was a symbolic success from the start — it replaced a neighborhood liquor store long-plagued by gang violence. But its program goals of increasing healthy behaviors among neighborhood teens go far beyond the symbolic.
Some of its key activities:
- Provide quality medical and mental health services tailored to the needs of local teens, including regular physicals, counseling on family planning, abstinence and sexually transmitted diseases, gender specific support groups and individual counseling.
- Teach leadership and advocacy skills to local youth so they can play a role in improving the community.
- Sponsor programs led by local teenagers to learn what other services teens need in the areas of health, recreation, nutrition and the prevention of substance abuse.
- Launch a media campaign to raise awareness of health issues.
- Develop a network of other organizations that provide support to the community.
Five miles away, the Daly City Youth Health Center is building on a 16-year track record of helping teenagers find their way to healthy productive lives. The center is a collaborative project of the Jefferson Union High School District in Northern San Mateo County and the San Mateo Medical Center.
In addition to providing a range of family planning and primary health care services, the Youth Health Center trains adult mentors to work one-on-one with youngsters considered at high risk for pregnancy, poor school performance, or violence, provides mental health counseling, and works with teenagers to develop skills they will need to enter the workforce. The Center also provides comprehensive sexuality education to 9th graders and runs a peer health education training program.
The Daly City Youth Health Center offers some of its programs on-site at the local high schools, helping it to build relationships with the students that would otherwise be impossible. It currently is the only provider of health care services in northern San Mateo County exclusively serving youth.
“The key, for us, is that we’re tailored for teenagers,” said Barbara Raboy, director of the Daly City Youth Health Center. “It lets us build long-term relationships with them. If we weren’t here, I think we would see teen pregnancy rates go back up in the northern part of the county.”
“But teens come to us for more than family planning,” Raboy said. “We’re dealing with chronic health problems we just didn’t see 15 or 16 years ago, when we first opened. There’s a lot of misinformation and risk-taking out there,” she said. “It’s all about helping them make quality decisions.”
For more information about the Bayview Hunter’s Point Healing Arts Center, visit its web site at http://www.bvhphealingarts.org/home/.
To learn more about the Daly City Youth Health Center visit http://www.dalycityyouth.org/.
About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, http://www.hewlett.org, has been making grants since 1966 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found at http://www.hewlett.org/grants.