“Ensuring that ALL youth are on a path to achieve their goals and dreams is something we strongly believe in,” said Dan Leroy, president and CEO at United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. “But this isn’t solely the job of our schools, there is a role for all of us to play. United Way is proud to have brought together the partners and resources needed to establish this center and continue our efforts to build hubs of support for the families in the Erwin District and 6 other school districts across our county, year-round.”
Press Release by Buncombe County Schools, Blue Ridge Health, and United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County
A chilly morning was warmed by a supportive crowd that attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, October 16. The Warrior Wellness Center is one of 34 school-based health centers operated by Blue Ridge Health in seven Western North Carolina counties.
The Wellness Center is, essentially, a doctor’s office on campus that serves students, staff, and families in the Erwin District. This school-based health center offers comprehensive care ranging from medical to dental and counseling to prescriptions and is open whenever the school is open. No student is denied services based on their ability to pay. Private and public health insurance and sliding scale fees are also available for those who qualify. It is important to note that student health care and screenings can only happen with parental/guardian consent.
Dr. Richard Hudspeth, family physician and CEO for Blue Ridge Health said “we believe strongly in the school-based health program that our organization has offered for more than 30 years. These services promote well-being, health equity, positive health outcomes, and economic advantages for the school families in our communities, and we could not provide them without the kind of community collaboration that has been shown for the Warrior Wellness Center.”
Across the country, and in our own neighboring counties, School-Based Health Centers have proven to be a wise investment in both the health and education of youth and families. Benefits include: easy-to-access health care on the school campus, which addresses challenges related to transportation and parental work schedules; early detection and treatment of illness can reduce the need for expensive treatment down the road and can keep children out of emergency rooms, saving families stress and money; onsite treatment can keep students in schools; decreasing absenteeism which is a crucial component to staying on track for graduation; School-Based Health Centers have been shown to strengthen the connection between schools and families.
This project and the effort to bring School-Based Health Centers to our local schools wouldn’t be possible without the support and partnership between Blue Ridge Health, Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools, Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), Buncombe County Health and Human Services, and United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.
"We were thrilled to celebrate our ribbon cutting ceremony with our Erwin district stakeholders and community partners,” said Principal Travis Collins. “Our partnerships with Buncombe County Schools, the United Way, Blue Ridge Health, and the Dogwood Fund have led to our Warrior Wellness that will serve the needs of all of our schools within the Erwin district. We are blessed to have this resource on our campus and are excited about raising awareness about our student based health care center so that we can better serve the needs of our learners, their families and our community."
The Health Center is just one of many tools our community now has to support youth success, year-round. In the coming months, the center will also include a food pantry and clothing closet to support needs in the community. Funding for this initiative comes from a federal grant from the US Department of Education, the Dogwood Health Trust, and local donations. Enka Middle School is slated to house the next school-based health center for Buncombe County Schools.
Staying engaged and working collaboratively are the keystones to successfully moving this work forward. We invite you to take the next step in keeping the momentum going: