FCL San Leandro Receives Kaiser Grant

Our mission at Full-Circle Learning (FCL) is to help youth embrace their role as society’s humanitarians and change agents. Often this has included the role of healer. In 2012, Full-Circle Learning was asked to participate in a collaboration with Lift/Levantate and Meridian Health Foundation in Northern California that would embed preventative health practices into Full-Circle Learning’s project-based community transformation process. It was natural fit, as diabetes prevention and other public health issues have been at the heart of many Full-Circle Learning units at learning sites around the world.

FCL identified a Kaiser grant that would help Lift secure funds to implement the project in Alameda County. (Parts of Alameda County have a 42% diabetes rate.) Meridian offered supplementary program support. Next, Full-Circle Learning set about to garner support from San Leandro Parks and Recreation District and the San Leandro School District, to establish the project in the geographic areas most at risk for diabetes. Next, the staff of Lift/Levantate was invited to attend a Full-Circle Learning workshop.

Teaching the teachers is our primary means of supporting wide-scale change, so Full-Circle Learning mentored the teachers with concepts and contacts for service-learning projects and guest presenters to help students connect content knowledge, habits-of-heart and community service. Advocating a soda tax, publicly demonstrating the science of clean drinking water, thanking a doctor whose vision launched 40 farmers’ markets at local hospitals, and shopping and cooking for their own families were among the plans for the students. The Lift/Levitante staff carried out these projects and incorporated additional curriculum on the science and actions needed for diabetes awareness and prevention. Many of the young participants had never experienced a summer program, as they had never been offered free educational services such as these. They hope for continuing programs from one year to the next.

Over the course of the summer program, a youth organization accustomed to helping young people change their own lifestyle discovered the potential of youth to change family habits and community policies as well. One student wrote, “There are three types of diabetes. This is important to me because I now know how to prevent them.” One parent said, “Thank you. You have changed our lives forever.” Equally important, assessments will be conducted to evaluate shifts in the students’ orientation as community change agents over time and to lay the foundation for continuing such programs in the coming years, so that they may emerge as altruistic community leaders, role models, and possibly as community health care workers.

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