Calif. Districts Launch Wellness Center for Students, Community Members
LOS ANGELES — Continuing to address the academic and social needs of the communities it serves, Green Dot Public Schools today announced the grand opening of the Locke Wellness Center, a 9,500-square-foot facility located directly across the street from the Locke Family of Schools in Watts. The Center will offer primary health and dental services; a full-scope of mental health services; reproductive health services; wellness promotion and prevention programming; parent engagement and education; academic support services; and a dance studio. Green Dot is coordinating with the Los Angeles Unified School District and community partners to provide these critical services and help its students reach their greatest potential both in and out of the classroom.
“Our goal is to promote learning in a healthier, safer environment for students and their families to help ensure the success of all students,” said CEO Marco Petruzzi. “If students can’t see the blackboard or if they are in pain, it can make learning impossible for them. We’re happy that this center will be able to provide much-needed services to our students, their families, and members of the Watts community in South Los Angeles.”
Petruzzi said providing comprehensive social and health services for students, family members, and community members is critical to bolstering student support and improving academic outcomes in a community that has been cited as having the greatest human development needs in California.
According to a recent study by the American Human Development Project, a resident of Watts can expect to live 15 years less, is 15 times less likely to have a bachelor’s degree, and earns $33,000 less than a resident of Newport Beach, just 50 miles to the south. This earnings gap is more than the total annual wages and salary of the typical worker in the U.S. today, and the life expectancy in Watts today is the same as the life expectancy in the country as a whole in the mid-1970s.
“Green Dot was created to address these needs,” Petruzzi continued. “Our mission is to transform public education. We can’t accomplish this goal without tackling the barriers to learning that exist outside the classroom. We know we can’t fix every problem, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do more for the communities we serve.”
More than 97% of students attending the Locke Families can be considered low income, as measured by their eligibility for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
By providing wrap-around health and wellness services to Locke High School students and their families, as well as residents of the Watts community of Los Angeles, the Locke Wellness Center will add an important new resource for the community and help deepen the strong academic program at the Locke Family of Schools. A recent UCLA study found its students were more than four times more likely to graduate and be ready for college than students at neighboring schools.
“A protected, healthy learning environment is a large step toward meeting the needs of the community and raising student achievement at the school,” Petruzzi concluded.
The Locke Wellness Center is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education’s Full Service Community Schools Program and The California Wellness Foundation. The Locke Wellness Center is able to provide free health and wellness services because of this funding and the generous contributions of our community partners that include Break the Cycle, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, COACH for Kids, Parent Institute for Quality Education, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, SHIELDS for Families, United Friends of the Children, VSP, United Peace Officers Against Crime, Watts Century Latino Organization, Watts Health Corporation and the Watts/Willowbrook boys & Girls Club.
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