History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.
— Nelson Mandela at UN for Children, New York City, May 9, 2002
Why is it so important to ensure that our youth are healthy and thriving? It’s because of the old adage and truth that they are our future. Their strength, ability to live independently, and capacity to contribute to the community are all impacted by how we take care of them today.
Students who are healthy will attend school, and higher attendance leads to higher graduation rates. On the other end, being chronically absent from school leads to dropping out, decreased access to higher learning, and higher rates of incarceration. (Read HIP’s “The Right to Dream” for resources, statistics, and promising practices across the country.)
Why would students miss school? According to the Everyone Graduates Center and Get Schooled youth are missing school because of, among other reasons:
- physical illness including chronic illnesses like asthma that are not treated well in communities with less access to quality medical care;
- mental/emotional health especially when students avoid school due to the fear of harassment, bullying, and other unsafe conditions; and
- financial health requiring the youth to work to support their families.
Though difficult, there are many people and organizations working hard to engage youth and to help them succeed by improving their health. Here are the #HIPGive2Health projects focused on youth:
By Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders
“We’re raising funds to reward our kids for excelling in our sports and education programs by taking them to a Baltimore Orioles game.”
By Mission Neighborhood Health Center
“This project will enable our youth to expand their reach in educating other Latino youth about sexual health and their overall well-being.”
By Greater New Britain Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Inc.
“This project provides our poverty-stricken boys and girls, and their siblings, with new backpacks filled with school and hygiene supplies.”