SACRAMENTO, Calif. — There's a new health center for students at Grant Union High School in Sacramento's Del Paso Heights neighborhood. It's called "Pacers Take Space."
Grant Union High held a ceremony on Wednesday, unveiling the new center at the school. The purpose is "to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational trauma and poverty by providing students with access to mental and physical health care services on campus."
It's a collaboration of several community organizations and groups. That includes Neighborhood Wellness Foundation, Sacramento Native American Health Center, Twin Rivers Unified School District and Sutter Health.
"We are especially proud that our long-envisioned dream of a school-based health center at Grant Union High School has become a reality, thanks to the hard work and tireless efforts of the Neighborhood Wellness Foundation in Del Paso Heights, the Sacramento Native American Health Center and Sutter Health," said Dr. Steve Martinez, superintendent of Twin Rivers Unified School District. "Our students at Grant will not have to travel far to receive medical attention because the health center — Pacers Take Space — is located on the Grant West Campus, ensuring students have direct access to health care providers while they are at school. This is huge for our families and the community, and ushers in a new era for the district in how we effectively administer health care services to ensure the development and well-being of all students."
Pacers Take Space is in two dedicated facilities on campus. It includes Pacers Take Space - Mind and Pacers Take Space - Body.
At Pacers Take Space - Mind, clinic staff will be available to help screen students for various types of support. That includes mental health counseling from licensed clinical providers Monday through Friday during various office hours. Students will be able to participate in talking circles too.
During talking circle sessions, students will be able to openly share their feelings in safe, group settings. Students will also be able to use the space at the center for quiet time or to decompress outside of class times throughout the day.
At Pacers Take Space - Body, students will have access to medical providers on campus for health check-ups, vaccinations, sports physicals and exams, as well as health education materials, information on reproductive and sexual health and Medi-Cal enrollment support.
"We responded to the voices and the needs of the students," said Dr. Gina Warren, CEO of Neighborhood Wellness Foundation. "They told us that they needed mental health support. We wanted to respond with action and we did that. Pacers Take Space is evidence. It is a game-changer for health and education for our community. Let's ensure it's sustained for generations."
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The construction and renovation of campus facilities to establish the Pacers Take Space health centers were completed this year with support from a $1.62 million investment from Sutter Health.
"The ripple effect of school-based clinics can be quite powerful and contribute to overall improved community health, and we are so proud to work alongside these organizations that champion such efforts," said Rachael McKinney, CEO of Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. "Addressing mental and physical health needs of students can create healthier individuals who then are also able to achieve more academically. The confidence-building and coping skills these students gain then help prepare them for the next stages of life, where they can constructively contribute to their families and their communities - leaving a lasting positive legacy."
Pacers Take Space will be operated by Neighborhood Wellness Foundation staff. Healthcare services will be provided by Sacramento Native American Health Center medical clinicians. The on-campus services will be available at no cost to students.
Grant Union High was established in 1932. It's the oldest and largest high school in the Twin Rivers Unified School District, with 2,088 students enrolled in the 2021-2022 school year.
According to data from the California Department of Education, Grant Union High serves all students, predominantly students of color, with 17% African American and 55% Hispanic or Latino. According to 2023 data from the CDE, the largest single significant subgroup at Grant Union High is the subgroup deemed socioeconomically disadvantaged, making up 88% of the student population. All students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
"The Pacers Take Space school-based health center has been in the minds and hearts of Grant Union High School students and community members for years," said Dr. Hakeem Adeniyi, Chief Clinical Officer for Sacramento Native American Health Center. "We are appreciative of Sutter Health and the outstanding leadership of Neighborhood Wellness Foundation in leading these efforts to increase access to healthcare in the Twin Rivers School District and specifically the Del Paso Heights community."
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