So we received a $20,000 grant from the Miller County Health Department to pack over 200 backpacks [with food] every week that gets to our kids. During summer school, we not only provide when there are food insecurities, but we also do enrichment activities where we take students to the zoo, we take them to a cave, we take them to the pool. Yes, they need reading and math, but they also need to experience things like the University of Missouri in Columbia and Bradford Farms.
We identified just last year that mental health is a huge concern and there aren’t as many mental health services around here. What we noticed is that if a kid had to go to therapy, parents would not always get them back to school. So if a kid’s already struggling with mental health issues, and then misses school, then they get behind and they have even more anxiety. It compounds the whole situation. So we said, ‘We need a therapist in our school.’
We went to Pathways Community Health to partner and said, ‘We’ll give you $15,000 if you’re in our school to meet with our kids. We can grab them, not during reading and math, but maybe during specials or recess. We’ll find them at a time that works that doesn’t hurt them academically.’ And that worked well. Then I shared with Central Ozarks Medical Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, what we were doing and they said, ‘We didn’t know that was a need you had. We’ll provide you another counselor for free.’ We were like, ‘Yeah, it’s a need. And, that would be fantastic!’ So they gave us one person and then that person said, ‘There are so many kids that need services.’
When our kids are healthier, they’re better prepared to learn and grow. When Missourians have access to the care they need, they have the opportunity to live up to their potential – bringing limitless value to their communities and to our state. When we look out for one another, we all see #TheNetBenefit.