Jocelyn Sorto was feeling sick at school one day. The Bryan High School senior thought it was just a seasonal allergy. But after some convincing from a counselor, she stopped by the school-based health center.
She was able to see a health provider immediately and was treated.
In the past, Sorto would have stayed home a few days to see if she got any better. Having a health center at school helped Sorto to stay in school.
“I haven’t always been a perfect student, but I’m now trying very hard,” Sorto said. “I’ve learned that my attendance and grades matter to be a success. I will be a success by being healthy.”
Sorto shared her experience at the grand opening of Bryan’s school-based health center on Monday.
“I’m glad to have such a positive experience and to have people believe that my health, attendance and success matters,” she said.
This is the eighth school-based health center for Omaha Public Schools and the second in an OPS high school, said Jeanee Weiss, CEO of Building Healthy Futures.
It is funded by Building Healthy Futures, OPS and a federal grant. OneWorld Community Health Centers received the grant last fall.
Building Healthy Futures is a subsidiary of Building Bright Futures, a nonprofit dedicated to improving education.
The center is open to any student in OPS and their siblings from birth to 19 years old.
Many teens and families around Bryan have difficulty not only accessing health care services but also face language barriers, transportation difficulties and poverty, said Andrea Skolkin, CEO of OneWorld Community Health Centers.
Skolkin encourages students to use the health center when they are sick and when they are healthy.
Bryan principal Robert Aranda said the health center is a great example of community partnership.
“We’ve got some wonderful kids here and that’s a testament to parents. That’s a testament to the community,” Aranda said. “We all work well together and do what’s best for kids.”
OPS superintendent Mark Evans shared Aranda’s feelings that the health center is a demonstration of community support.
“It is a fantastic site that’s going to make a difference in the lives of kids,” Evans said.
Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders said the school-based health center is good for students and the community.
“When we take care of our youth, we take care of our future,” Sanders said.