Extra! For the Sake of All is in the news

For the Sake of All has been receiving positive attention in local and national media. Here’s a round-up of the many places people from around the country are learning about the work of For the Sake of All in St. Louis.

On Sept. 11, Director Dr. Jason Purnell wrote an opinion piece on For the Sake of All for the Huffington Post as part of its “Listen to America” tour being held around the country. Dr. Purnell wrote eloquently about how the program’s name refers to an unfinished score by Scott Joplin and the work to eliminate health inequity that still needs to be done in St. Louis, our beloved city by the river.

“If anything has become apparent to residents of St. Louis following what is known by the shorthand “Ferguson,” it is that all of us are implicated in and impacted by the inequities that have characterized our region for decades. And all of us are also necessary in addressing the multiple factors that result in an unequal distribution of health, life, and the resources that support them both,” wrote Dr. Purnell.

Dr. Purnell was also quoted in an Aug. 20 Washington Examiner Piece on the Affordable Care Act and stalled Congressional efforts to bring the social determinants of health and health equity more prominently into national public health policy.

In August, For the Sake of All and multiple community partners celebrated the opening of a school-based health center on the campus of Normandy High School, a part of For the Sake of All’s “next steps” to foster healthy schools.

Print and digital stories about Normandy’s new health center ran on Aug. 23 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and July 27 in The St. Louis American. Fox 2 News also aired an extensive story on a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center held Aug. 31 at Normandy High School. St. Louis Public Radio aired an Aug. 10 piece on student health centers in the region highlighting Normandy’s new health center, now named Affinia Healthcare at Normandy High School.

For the Sake of All was also the recent recipient of a prestigious $1.1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to work with the Normandy Schools Collaborative and St. Louis Public Schools to develop a “toolkit” to better coordinate and implement programs that foster healthy schools.

The Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis American each published stories on the project on Aug. 9 and Sept. 6. Washington University also wrote about the project in its campus-wide digital publication, the Source.

On Sept. 10 the Post-Dispatch published an editorial praising our momentum on fostering healthy schools, noting “public education is too often a political battlefield where children’s basic needs are forgotten. For the Sake of All puts the emphasis back where it belongs.”

Washington University graduate Joe Madison, AKA The Black Eagle, interviewed Dr. Purnell on his national Sirius XM radio talk show Aug. 31 to discuss healthy schools that attend to the needs of the whole child.

“We can begin to close the gap in educational outcomes by actually attending to the issues that stand in the way of the ability to learn,” he said. “A child who can’t see, can’t hear, can’t breathe, hasn’t slept, has been traumatized doesn’t know where they are going back home to at night doesn’t have the opportunity to learn, and none of us would.

Staff has also been out in the community discussing For the Sake of All’s research and work. On Aug. 25, Dr. Purnell presented research on health inequity to a new class of Focus St. Louis Impact Fellows, a group of community leaders currently learning about the region’s health care safety net. On Aug. 31, Communications Manager Nancy Cambria presented to the St. Louis Regional Chamber on the critical importance of investing in quality early childhood programs to promote optimal brain growth and build a future labor market.

Finally, For the Sake of All is pleased to announce it has developed a concise Fact Sheet that includes information on its history, research, goals, and current work. Please share this fact sheet with anyone interested in the mission of health equity for St. Louis.

Supporters can always follow For the Sake of All on Twitter to see up-to-date posts on research, current news, and other notable items regarding health equity and progress in St. Louis. Supporters can also sign up for email notifications about new blog posts on the bottom of our website home page.



A shiny bite of hope: Partners celebrate a new health center at Normandy High School

Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

For the Sake of All doesn’t usually get the time to truly celebrate the positive work happening among our partners in the St. Louis region to solve health inequity.

But the morning of Thursday, Aug. 31st was a tremendous exception.

Nearly 100 people attended a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the recent opening of Affinia Healthcare at Normandy High School, a primary care health center located on the high school campus. So many people attended, the school opened its football field to handle the overflow in parking.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared it a landmark event. He issued an official proclamation for the day honoring the new health center and the partnerships that made it possible. 

The morning was truly a demonstration of school spirit and partnership. Students in the band joined their clarinets, flutes, drums and tubas to pump out music by Prince and other songs. Their peers in the high school’s culinary arts program spent the morning preparing sweet treats like banana bread and strawberry cream cups which they served to a line of eager guests. Normandy High School junior Kaviyon Calvert prepared a speech for guests.

“The center will give students the opportunity to network with trustworthy health care professionals,” he said.

The celebration was held in a large gathering space outside the health center decorated with bright murals painted by St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc and Normandy High students, making the space an inviting place to seek out health services.

Normandy Schools Collaborative Superintendent Dr. Charles Pearson emceed the event which highlighted the district’s partnership with four organizations that worked together to make the center possible: Affinia Healthcare is providing medical care and staffing; BJC HealthCare is donating in-kind donations, including furnishings and medical supplies; Wyman, a youth development organization, is working to integrate the health center into the everyday activities of the school district; and For the Sake of All, which is conducting critical needs assessments in schools and fostering partnerships to support and increase school-based health.

“This is about giving schools all of the tools and partnerships they need to create truly healthy schools – schools that cater to the whole child so they can be healthy and succeed,” said For the Sake of All Director Jason Purnell, one of eight speakers.

Honorary guests came from as far as Jefferson City. They included local and state elected officials, as well as Dr. Margie Vandeven, commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“It’s a really exciting thing when research and common sense just collide,” Vandeven said. “Our students will learn when their basic needs are met.”

After the speeches, all of the partners squeezed in behind the long paper banner in front of the health center – each armed with jumbo gold-handled scissors.

Affinia Healthcare President and CEO Alan Freeman gave the final count-down.

The banner was so big It took several cuts. The crowd cheered the partners long after the banner fell to the floor in pieces. The celebration continued with small tours of the health center’s two examination rooms and its waiting room and lab area.

It is not without some somber recognition that this this joyful moment took place in Michael Brown’s high school just two weeks after the anniversary of his death. In a way, Normandy’s health center and Mike Brown’s legacy are linked.

The outrage that emerged after his death in Ferguson, MO in August 2014 brought critical attention to For the Sake of All’s Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis and Why It Matters for Everyone. The research in the Report, published just four months before Brown’s death, was clear: inequity from poverty and segregation was severely harming the health and longevity of African Americans in St. Louis.

Opening more school-based health centers in high-need school districts like the new one in Normandy High School was a direct community response to this Report.

For the Sake of All’s work in school-based health is far from done. For the Sake of All is working to foster more partnerships to open two new centers in North St. Louis County by the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Work is also underway to establish Missouri as an organized affiliate of the School-Based Health Alliance, a national organization empowering the creation of effective school-based health centers. Ultimately, For the Sake of All aims to open a health center in every high-need high school in the region. 

When the party wound down at Normandy High School, red and green apples reflecting Normandy’s school colors were handed out to the crowd. As they headed to their cars, guests carried with them a symbol of the merging of health and education – and a shiny bite of hope.

Want to learn more? The ribbon-cutting was covered by Fox2 news reporter Shawndrea Thomas on Aug. 31. Reporter Kristen Taketa of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also wrote an extensive Aug. 23 newspaper story on the growth of school-based health in St. Louis.

Photo credits: Sam Nuernberger for Wyman