The University of Rochester Teen Health and Success Partnership received the 2015 Hilary E.C. Millar Award for Innovative Approaches to Adolescent Health Care awarded by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. SAHM is an international organization committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health and well-being of all adolescents. The honor was presented at the SAHM Annual Meeting in Los Angeles on March 20.
“The Teen Health and Success Partnership is grateful for this prestigious recognition,” said Suzanne M. Piotrowski, M.D., clinical associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and director of the UR Teen Health & Success Partnership (THSP). “This is a replicable model of community collaboration to promote the health, academic success and gainful employment of urban youth. Rochester’s THSP youth are changing the startlingly chronic poverty and school failure statistics of Rochester. Thank you to the many people in the UR community who have supported the THSP young adults.”
Adolescents need access to health insurance and health care, as well as skills in health advocacy and health literacy, Piotrowski said. The THSP Be Healthy Be Successful Program has provided health literacy and advocacy seminars to 2,400 urban teens. Participants requesting services were connected to health insurance and health care services.
Failure to complete high school is a predictor for more frequent and severe adult illness and early mortality. Programs that encourage high school graduation and continuing education – be it college, vocational school, or employment-ready training – increase the present and future health of urban youth. The THSP Be Employed Be Successful Program has assisted 225 Rochester urban youth to finish high school and transition to college, vocational school or full-time employment. Participants, once at-risk for dropping out of high school, work part-time at the UR as an incentive: 100 percent graduate from high school; 86 percent enroll in college or vocational school; and 63 percent have been promoted. These students have received more than $3 million in college scholarship support.
The THSP program connects participants to many resources that otherwise would be unavailable to them, including UR libraries, Employee Assistance Program counseling services, college application preparation support, academic tutoring, leadership and management skills workshops, athletic camps, summer academic, residential programs, campus social, cultural and athletic events and career shadowing opportunities. The program also connects youth to City of Rochester resources such as housing, federally funded day care programs, food cupboards, legal counsel, and cultural, social and athletic events.
By enveloping these youth in a supportive environment rich with services, high school graduation – a well-studied social determinant of health – increases. The THSP program is truly innovative in their approach to teen health and health care, changing lives one at time to build healthy kids, healthy families and break the cycle of unemployment, poverty, mortality and morbidity in the Rochester.