Healthy minds, healthy bodies: Detroit charter schools partner with community to open health clinics

Buddy Moorehouse
Sep 22, 2021 9:26:23 AM

In the midst of the greatest health crisis of the past few generations, some Detroit charter schools are stepping up in extraordinary ways to help keep their communities healthy.

At the Barack Obama Leadership Academy, a K-5 charter school on the city’s east side, a full-service health clinic opened to the public on Aug. 27, offering a full range of health services right inside the school building.

To help with the COVID-19 pandemic, meanwhile, the Covenant House Academies in Detroit have been utilizing their campuses as vaccination sites for students, families, and community members to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, get vaccinated, and get screened for other health conditions.

Both efforts align with the charter ideal of forming unique community partnerships to help improve the lives of students and families.

The health clinic at the Barack Obama Leadership Academy is a partnership with the Detroit Community Health Connection Inc., a nonprofit health-service organization that runs seven other clinics across the city. The new clinic was officially opened during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 27 at the school, and it’s called the Paul Bridgewater Health Center. A legendary figure in the community, Bridgewater was the longtime CEO of the Area Agency on Aging. He said he was honored to have the new facility bear his name.

Located directly inside the school, the Paul Bridgewater Health Center will provide a full range of services for the Barack Obama Leadership Academy community, including check-ups, vaccinations, treatment, medications and more.

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Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Principal Kimberly Pritchett said she’s thrilled to have the clinic inside her school, and praised the partnership with the Detroit Community Health Connection that made it all possible.

Thank you for helping to insure the health and safety of our students. Our work is ongoing, and we will continue to navigate these challenges together. There are three things we have to keep in mind – power, progress and partnerships. And that’s what we have here. Thank you for working with us and for us for the betterment of our community. We will reach one student at a time, together.”

- Kimberly Pritchett, Barack Obama Leadership Academy Principal 

The Barack Obama Leadership Academy was founded as Timbuktu Academy before changing its name to honor the 44th president (it’s the only school in the state named after the first African-American president). The school stresses academic and leadership skills in an African-centered environment. It’s authorized by the Detroit Public Schools Community District and managed by Magnum Educational Services.

The Covenant House Academies in Detroit, meanwhile, spent the month of August turning their schools into a COVID-19 clinic, offering vaccinations, information and testing at its campuses throughout the city to help the community defeat the pandemic.

This effort involved doing vaccinations on site and bringing a mobile health clinic to the various campuses, allowing students and other members of the community to not only receive services related to COVID-19, but also get screened for a variety of other health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV.

The effort was a community partnership between Covenant House Academies and several partners, including Molina Healthcare, Ford Motor Company, Wayne State University Health, the State of Michigan and the Detroit City Health Department.

It was a completely free service for members of the community who might otherwise not have had access to health care. No insurance or ID was required, and no appointment was necessary. The goal was simply to help improve the health of the community.

Covenant House Academy is authorized by Grand Valley State University and managed by Youth Visions Solutions. The school serves students ages 15-22 who have experienced challenges in the system, helping them to earn their high school diploma and receive valuable life and career skills.

A teacher at Chatfield School teachers to her class during the first day of school.

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