HealthCorps Teens Support Families in Need in the East Valley and GRIC
Gila River Indian News
As part of their Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, teens from the Gila River Indian Community recently held a donation drive for East Valley and Community families in need through HealthCorps’ Teens Make Health Happen (TMHH) club.
“HealthCorps is a national non-profit organization, and one of our primary goals is to give teens the educational tools to take control of their health and address the health inequities in their communities,” said Taneesha Watson, Regional Program Manager for HealthCorps. “Our work is supported by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.”
Currently, six GRIC students are involved in the Gila River Youth Digital Club. Watson said the GRIC students have prior knowledge of community service from their participation in the Gila River Akimel O’otham/Pee Posh Youth Council. The Gila River Club is one of five TMHH clubs in Arizona.
According to Watson, the TMHH club provides educational leadership, programming and service learning for teens based on physical activity, nutrition, mental resilience and community engagement. “Our clubs are open to students across the state in grades 6 through 12,” said Watson. “Part of HealthCorps’ mission is to empower teens to make a difference in their communities, schools and families by educating them on the benefits of engaging in service that’s meaningful to both our students and our communities.”
The club’s students contacted local businesses to seek donations and explained how the items were vital to families in need. “We were able to receive funding through outreach to local businesses across the Valley, including gift cards from Chandler Costco and two Target locations,” Watson said. “Those contributions were used to purchase high-demand items including new socks, underwear, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, bath towels, baby wipes and sanitizing wipes.”
Part of the club’s goal is to develop a health initiative focused on a community project students would like to implement. By looking at local resource centers, the TMHH students identified the Fans Across America Charitable Foundation in Chandler and GRIC Residential Program for Youth as the focus of their project.
According to Watson, the club’s initiative is part of several TMHH projects throughout the year, including regional and national activities. The TMHH students also will submit a proposal for inclusion in the HealthCorps’ National Project Health Showcase. Students from across the nation in May will present ideas and projects to combat health inequities in their communities. The student led projects are eligible for up to $5,000 in grants.
“Its much appreciated to have them reach out to us for this basic needs drive and working with Taneesha to bring these much needed items to the kids,” said Mark Miller, RPY Youth Services Program Coordinator.
He said RPY welcomes donations, especially with clothing. “We do have plenty of youth clothes, but we are accepting teenage age clothing, which includes hygiene products and socks and shoes.”
Watson said despite the COVID-19 pandemic, TMHH students were able to continue their work and secure donations. She added, “This is just an example of what you can achieve when you’re focused on finding a solution to a challenging situation.”
Miller said for organizations, that are interested in donating items, can contact the RPY at 520-562-3437.
The TMHH clubs are free to join and open to all Arizona students in grades 6 through 12. Those interested should contact Taneesha at Taneesha.Watson@healthcorps.org by March 4.